The Best Renovations for City Dwellers

Renovations / Thursday, July 5th, 2018

City home ownership is completely different than country living. We’re lucky here in Canada that we have so much land, and such low population density so purchasing a property in the country can come pretty cheap — as long as you’re willing to live far from commerce, and don’t mind being snowed in.

Nevertheless, most of the Canadian population is urban.

The differences are clear: firstly, there’s obviously just way less interior space. Secondly, there’s less land to spread on, so houses tend to be higher and more densely packed. Thirdly, green space is highly desirable — a backyard in the centre of a major Canadian city can add a significant amount to resale value.

Yet, these smaller properties come at a massive premium. Unlike America, there aren’t numerous mid-size cities scattered around — each province only has one or two major cities, and each is in extremely high demand. That means urban property prices are high, really high.

If you check out Vancouver real estate, Calgary homes for sale or MLS  listings  in Toronto, you’ll see that a renovated house in a major Canadian urban centre can easily cost $2 million, while a fixer-upper, suburban home, or a condo can go for half a million.

So, since the needs of someone in a city is so different than those in the country, we wanted to explore what the best renovations are that can add to your resale value and give you long-term satisfaction. We found that the differences aren’t that great — Canadians are mostly looking for the same things when they buy a house: a place to entertain outside, a nice kitchen to cook in and modern finishes.

Here’s three renos that add to your resale value in the city (and the country):

Landscaping and deck

Green space is at such a premium in a city that creating an oasis is likely to charm prospective buyers. But more importantly, a place where you can go to relax, grill some burgers and smell some flowers will ease your stress and give you something nice to look at. Compared to a kitchen or bathroom reno, an investment in your backyard can be far cheaper, but make those precious summer months that much better. A deck will run you $15-$25 per square foot, a patio walkway can be $20-$40 per square foot and wood burning fireplace (why not!) can be $1500 – $2,500.These additions can add around a 12 per cent resale value.

Interior Kitchen

Although cities tend to have great restaurant scenes and easy  transit to try out whatever trendy food is on offer, a nice large kitchen is still important to urbanites. You don’t need to spend a lot if the layout is already functional. Simply changing cabinet doors, redoing a backsplash, getting high-end appliances and new counters is enough to add to the resale value.  A minor kitchen reno, around $15,000 is likely to recoup 90 per cent of its cost. However, even the best kitchen is likely to look dated in 15 years, so renovate for your enjoyment first.


Getting rid of dated carpet and adding hardwood floors is sure to impress prospective buyers and will save you yearly steam-cleaning costs. Real hardwood floors can also last an incredibly long time with proper maintenance — 25 years to a lifetime. ROI on floor upgrades ranges from 50 to 75 per cent. That means if you spend $10,000 redoing your floors, you can expect to recoup anywhere from $5,000 to $7,500 of your costs. is a leading real estate company that combines online search tools and a full-service brokerage to empower Canadians to buy or sell their homes faster, easier and more successfully. Home buyers can browse real estate listings on the website or the free iOS app.

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