$30M in rebates for new homes and repairs aims to kick-start economy: finance minister

With COVID-19 pubic health restrictions prompting people to spend a lot more time in their homes, some may have found problems, dreamed up improvements — or decided it’s time to build a new one altogether.

The provincial government on Wednesday announced a $30-million residential construction rebate program that it hopes will kick-start an economy stunted by the pandemic.

“This promises to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians get back to work while also helping others achieve goals for their homes and their futures.This program supports homeowners and contractors, as we start to recover from Snowmageddon and the pandemic. This will also help our economy recover,” he said.

The program, which offers rebates of up to $10,000 for home renovations or new home construction, was announced by Finance Minister Tom Osborne Wednesday morning.

Homeowners who successfully apply will get a rebate of 25 per cent of the cost of a renovation on a principal residence, up to a maximum rebate of $10,000.

For a new home construction, a rebate of $10,000 is available for a project costing up to $350,000 before HST.

The finance minister said the rebate program will also mean more work for many tradespeople.

“This program will get people back to work. It will put hammers in hands. It will see plumbers, electricians, roofers and so on, back to work,” said Osborne.

Finance Minister Tom Osborne says a program offering $30 million in rebates for new homes and renovations will help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

The rebate will be given for work contracted within 60 days from June 8 (when the provincial government’s Alert Level 3 is expected to begin). A government news release on the program says the project “must be substantially complete” by March 31, 2021. To qualify, a homeowner must use a registered contractor with general liability insurance.

The money for the program comes from the $200-million COVID-19 contingency fund approved by the House of Assembly on March 26. 

Applications will be available on the Department of Finance’s website and through the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in the coming days.

Home builders expect more work

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association says business has slowed significantly because of the states of emergency declared after January’s heavy snowfall, as well as closures and restrictions imposed under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interim CEO of the N.L. chapter of the association expects the new rebate program will mean more work for the group’s members.

“It’s been a slow start to the year for contractors, and new home starts are down to a record low,” said Curtis Mercer on Wednesday.

“But there are families who want new homes and people who want to renovate. So we believe there is some pent-up demand. A program like this will make it easier for those people to buy new homes or start renovations.”

A crew in the Southlands neighbourhood of St. John’s prepares the foundation for a new home in 2019. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Mercer said public health restrictions that prevent workers from entering homes during the pandemic have stalled many needed repairs and renovations, and he expects the loosening of restrictions under Alert Level 3 will make that work more possible.

St. John’s also giving renovators a break

Just over a week ago, the City of St. John’s announced it would give a financial break for certain construction projects. 

Fees for new residential and commercial projects, including patios and decks, fences, sheds and general repairs, have been waived. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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