Ontario residential building permits increase in 2021

Recent data released by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) reveals an increase in total residential building permits in Ontario, for the second straight year.
According to MPAC, more than 122,000 building permits were issued across Ontario in 2021 for new development as well as home improvement. This represents a 15 per cent increase from the previous year continuing a trend that saw a 9 per cent increase from the year before.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation  reports residential home improvement permits were up by 18 per cent, to nearly 70,000. These permits were for home improvements including renovations/additions, swimming pools, sheds, garages and decks.

COVID-19 restrictions were likely a major factor again, with people focused on their home because they were spending so much more time there, explains Carmelo Lipsi, MPAC Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In every category of home improvement additions, renovations, swimming pools, garages, decks and sheds the numbers were up, in many cases by double digit percentages.

Notably, the increases in 2020 and 2021 represent a marked shift from previous years reinforcing the notion that pandemic restrictions were a driver of home improvement decisions.

By comparison, in 2019 home improvement permits were up by just 5 per cent (with overall building permits increasing marginally by 0.3 per cent), while in 2018 they decreased by 15 per cent (overall permits down by 18 per cent) year over year.

Analyzed by category:

  • Total Building Permits 122,334 across Ontario, up by 15 per cent.  Toronto led the province with 9,478 permits in 2021, an increase of 28 per cent from 2020.  The Township of Severn saw the largest percentage increase of any municipality, jumping 467 per cent (272 building permits in 2021, compared to 48 in 2020).
  • Residential Home Improvement 69,488 province-wide in 2021, an increase of 18 per cent from 2020.  Brampton was tops with 7,382, up by 29 per cent from 2020.  Severn Township again led in percentage increase, issuing 545 per cent more home improvement permits (129 versus 20 the year before).
    • Residential Renovations/Additions 38,399, up 19 per cent in 2021. Brampton was the provincial leader with 7,133 renovation/addition permits, an increase of 29 per cent from the previous year.
    • Residential Swimming Pools 9,059 total in 2021, up 33 per cent (continuing a trend that saw a 53 per cent increase from 2019 to 2020).  As in 2020, Ottawa was Ontarios swimming pool capital, with 1,372 pool permits in 2021, a 47 per cent jump.
    • Residential Sheds 4,223, up 18 per cent.  To require a permit, a shed must be a minimum size, so this category includes large, stylish sheds that have become increasingly popular as separate living/work space or backyard getaway. Hamilton, with 137 shed permits (a 19 per cent increase), was provincial leader.
    • Residential Garages 6,579 across the province, up 9 per cent.  Toronto had the most, with 234 permits. But it was London, among larger cities, that saw the biggest jump, from 90 in 2020 to 207 in 2021, a 130 per cent increase.
    • Residential Decks 9,502, up 2 per cent.  Hamilton also led in this category, with 884 deck permits, an increase of 29 per cent from 2020.

This is an interesting trend to watch, to see if it continues once pandemic restrictions have been lifted for good, Lipsi says. Many indicators suggest that working from home will be more prevalent than it was pre-pandemic, and well see if that continues to translate to more spending on the home.

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