People renovating an existing home or building a new one can take advantage of many different grants and financial incentives from the federal, provincial and city governments. Even a small grant can make a difference in a home project.
Vancouver at Dusk by Alex Costin
If you are buying a home for the first time, you may be exempt from some or all of the property transfer tax on a home in BC, under the First Time Home Buyer program. The requirements for the full exemption include being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, never before having owned a permanent resident anywhere in the world, and making this your principal residence. There are also restrictions on the property’s fair market value and size. Properties that are larger or more valuable may qualify for partial exemption. You apply for this program when you register the property transfer.
You may also claim $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home on line 369 of your income tax return to the Canada Revenue Agency. The main qualification is that you did not live in a property you or your partner owned in the year of acquisition or any of the previous four years. This applies to both existing homes and homes that are under construction, as long as they are in Canada and registered under you and/or your partner’s name.
Thanks to the Canada Revenue Agency, home buyers can get a rebate on some of the Harmonized Sales Tax from the purchase of new housing, which includes buying new or substantially renovated homes, or substantially renovating an existing home. This is applied for as part of your income tax return.
A Look Into a Vancouver Home by Marc Falardeau
The province of BC provides a grant to home owners that reduces the property taxes they must pay on their principal residence. You may qualify for a grant of up to $570 off your property taxes, or up to $770 if you live in a rural area. Seniors, people with disabilities or living with people with disabilities, or veterans, may apply for additional grants. These grants must be applied for each year, though it is possible to apply for a retroactive grant for the previous year. If you own a share in a co-op, you may also be eligible for Home Owner Grant.
The movement towards energy efficient homes means there is money to be had for renovations. Under the City of Vancouver’s Green Vancouver program, you can get a $125 rebate for the purchase of certain models of smart thermostats under a pilot program. You must be a Fortis account holder and, after the installation of the thermostat, complete two surveys and provide utility data over twelve months. Sean Pander, the City’s Green Buildings program manager, says, "We can take up to 4,000 qualified applicants," but adds that the real program will be launched in late 2016.
If you use financing insured by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation to buy an energy-efficient home or make energy-saving renovations, you may be eligible for a 10 per cent CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium refund, and a premium refund for a longer amortization period, under the Green Home program. Whether you are buying or renovating, you need to have documentation of your home’s energy efficiency assessment, done by a Natural Resources Canada-qualified energy advisor.
Cosy Home by Rasmus Andersson
The rebate and incentive programs that were once administered by Live Smart BC were handed over to the province’s utilities in 2014, under the Power Smart program. General manager Joanna Sofield says,
BC Hydro offers a variety of incentives and rebates on appliances and products to help customers improve the efficiency of their homes. Cost can be a barrier to energy conservation and we’re pleased to offer these savings to help British Columbians reduce their energy consumption and save on their electricity bills.
You can apply for a number of different home renovation rebates from BC Hydro. This includes housing insulation, draft-proofing, improving the home heating system, and improving the ventilation system, totaling up to $2,550. There’s also a bonus rebate of up to $750 for making three or more eligible upgrades. The renovations must be done by March 31st, 2016. Then complete the Homeowner Application Form on the BC Hydro web site, and mail it and the invoices to BC Hydro by April 30th, 2016.
VanCity Credit Union offers an additional $200 rebate for recipients of the BC Hydro rebates.
Fortis BC has its own rebates for renovations to make homes more energy efficient and comfortable, provided they meet the Energy Star standard administered by Natural Resources Canada. Through the New Home program, you can get up to $2,000 for an Energy Star-certified single family detached dwelling outside the city of Vancouver, or $1,000 for a natural gas condensing tank. The renovations must be done by March 31st, 2016. Then complete the Homeowner Application Form on the Fortis BC web site, and mail it and the invoices to BC Hydro by April 30th, 2016.
Looking Down Granville Street by Alex Costin
Renovating a home for elderly people or people with disabilities can be expensive, but fortunately there are sources of funding to make these alterations affordable.
If you are eligible for the disability tax credit (line 316 in your income tax return), you need not be a first-time home buyer to apply for the previously mentioned Home Buyer’s amount (line 369).
If you are a BC resident, and a senior or a family member living with a senior, the provincial government also offers a refundable tax credit for certain permanent home modifications for accessibility. The credit is for up to $1,000, calculated as 10 per cent of the renovation expense (up to $10,000). You claim the credit when you file your income tax return for the year. You will have to complete Schedule BC(S12) of your tax return and put the amount you spent on eligible renovations beside box 6048 on form BC(479).
The Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program from BC Housing provides income assistance to low-income seniors and people with disabilities so they can stay in their primary residence. Apart from being a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, and permanently residing in BC, you or a member of your household has a permanent disability or diminished ability who needs the adaptations, which may need to be verified by a medical professional. Furthermore, your household assets must be less than $100,000, your household income must be within your area’s Housing Income Limit, and your home’s BC Assessment value is under the Home Value Limit. Those who qualify may receive up to $20,000 in grants or forgivable loans for home modifications that are permanent and fixed to the building.
The application form can be downloaded from the BC Housing website. To apply, submit the completed form, along with Property Assessment Notice, proof of household income and assets, and an itemized written estimate, by mail or fax.
A Heritage Home by Heritage Vancouver Society
If you own a house on the City of Vancouver Heritage Register, you can apply for grants for repairs and maintenance, courtesy of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. This can be for exterior painting (up to $1000), exterior fabric such as windows, trim and siding (half of your project, up to $1,500), or making a Conservation Report (half of the cost, up to $500). If your house is on the Register or built before 1940, there’s a pilot program to improve energy efficiency, with grants up to $3,000, which starts in 2015. However, program manager Rebecca Bishop warns that, "our grants are available only for houses on the Heritage Register." If your house isn’t on the Register, you can apply for a grant for the application process (half of the cost, up to $500).
The application deadline is the February 1st of each year. When you make the application, all property taxes must be paid and there are no liens against the property, and the application must be delivered by mail or in person. The Foundation also offers educational lectures on home renovations.
As part of an effort to conserve water, the City of North Vancouver offers a $50 rebate for replacing an older 13.8 litre toilets with a new, 4.8 litre or dual-flush models. They also recycle the old toilets. The City of Richmond has a similar $100 utility tax rebate for installing a new low-flush toilet, as do other cities in the region.