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By belairdirect

Whenever you make major renovations to your home, you should call your insurer first. It’s good to know if the changes will increase your home’s value, whether your policy covers the cost of replacement in the event of a loss, and when necessary, if insuring these enhancements will increase your premium.

If you have recently added eco-friendly enhancements or improved the safety and accessibility of your home for a senior, you might be able to offset some of those costs. Check out these provincial tax credits available to Ontario and Quebec residents on their 2013 and 2014 tax returns.

Quebec tax credits for eco-friendly renovations

The Tax Credit for Eco-Friendly Home Renovation (EcoRenov) is only available for the 2013 and 2014 tax years, and only when filing your tax return. It gives you a 20% credit on the portion of eligible expenses made above $2, 500, up to a maximum of $10, 000 per eligible dwelling.

To qualify for the credit you must be the owner or co-owner of a principal residence or 4-season cottage that was renovated by a qualified contractor after October 7, 2013, and before November 1, 2014.

Types of eligible renovations include:
• Insulating exterior surfaces, and sealing the foundation, walls, doors, windows, skylights, etc.
• New doors, windows and skylights
• A new heating, water or geothermal system, or solar thermal panel
• Replacing a central air-conditioning system, or window unit
• A new drain-water, heat or energy recovery system or ventilator
• A new underground rainwater recovery tank
• A better waste water collection and disposal system
• Restoring a buffer strip
• Decontaminating fuel oil-contaminated soil
• A new wind turbine
• Adding a rooftop garden

This list is not exhaustive. The Revenue Quebec site has all the details on the compliance requirements of Recognized Eco-Friendly Renovation Work.

If you can cash in on the EcoRenov credit, you may also be eligible for financial assistance under the Rénoclimat program offered by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles. On average, program participants save 20% on their heating bills once renovations are completed.

Chris Grysczyk, Senior analyst for Underwriting Personal Lines at belairdirect in Ontario has some good advice for homeowners that are thinking green. “If you want to add solar thermal panels or a rooftop garden to your house, get an independent expert to check if your roof is properly reinforced before you start. Most homes are not designed for the weight load or other factors that come with these types of renovations and in some cases, all it takes is a good snow fall to cause the roof to collapse.”

Abdelmoughit Errami, Analyst for Underwriting Personal Lines at belairdirect in Quebec adds, “If you’re hiring a contractor to do your renovations, ask to see proof that he or she is insured by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ). If not, you could be held responsible in the event of an accident like an injury to a worker while on your property.”

Ontario tax credits for renovations to home safety and accessibility for seniors…

If you are a senior citizen, 65 years or older, or family that lives with one, you could benefit from The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit. It’s a refundable tax credit for both the small and larger upgrades that are often needed to make a home more accessible and safer for seniors. The credit allows you to claim 15% of the cost of eligible improvements, up to $10, 000, regardless of your income.

Types of eligible renovations include:
• Enabling first-floor occupancy or a secondary suite for a senior
• Adding a wheelchair ramp, lift or elevator, swing-clear door hinges, or widening doors
• Adding grab bars and reinforcements,
• A new hand-held shower, walk-in bathtub, wheel-in shower, or comfort-height toilet
• Hands-free taps, moving taps for easier access, or making knee space under basins
• Touch-and-release drawers and cupboards or pull-out shelves
• Lowering counters and cupboards, or adding adjustable ones
• Installing handrails in corridors or non-slip flooring
• New easy-to-operate locks, or door and tap handles with levers, instead of knobs
• Better lighting, or improving access to light fixtures and electrical outlets
• New automatic garage door openers

Visit the The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit page on the Revenue Ontario site before making a claim for this tax credit. It has all the details on which renovations qualify, and more importantly, those that don’t. For example, renovations which primarily increase the value of the home, or jobs that are recurring or considered maintenance, don’t qualify. If you’re still not sure, call 1-866-ONT-TAXS (668-8297), 1-800-263-7776 (teletypewriter access), or download the brochure.

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