A most interesting community

Even with renovation highs and lows

Westboro, to an outsider, must seem like one of the most ideal places in Ottawa. And, to the people who live there, it is.

Westboro is a vibrant neighbourhood along the Ottawa River with change, rejuvenation, activity, community spirit, great little shops, artists, musicians, outdoors people…. and old war-time houses crying out for a facelift.

It’s just the kind of place where you’d like to buy a house and call in the renovators to do something spectacular with it. Many people already have.

However, in the world of renovations, things are changing, apparently due to the HST.

Not so long ago, maybe no longer ago than a year or a year and a half, renovations were booming here just as they were in so many other areas of Ottawa.

At first, the houses were changing, being added to, and given a whole new look.

People like Robin xxxxx and Chris xxxx, for instance, hired Mike Dion of  Oakridge Construction and Gerhard Linse Design and Building Consultants to completely remake their little, fairly ordinary, house. The result was dramatic – show-stopping. Their house was transformed into an exquisite, tasteful, perfectly-designed home, perfect down to the smallest detail.

It was originally 1100 sq ft. with two bedrooms. After the renovation it had a magnificent third bedroom, a new roofline, a stunning new bathroom, a mud-room entranceway and new siding with detailed capping that Mike Dion says is one of the hallmarks of a Gerhard Linse creation.

It was one of the first big renovations in Westboro, and people noticed.

 

Mike Dion and Gerhard Linse have worked on several large renovations in Westboro, and they know the area well. Mike says things started to change in recent years when some people would choose just to buy a house, tear it down, and build fresh.

“Land value is such that you can do that,” he says.

And so there were many large-scale renovation and building projects all over the neighbourhood.

However, that has changed recently.

Mike says things have slowed down. He says it’s quieter now. All the “big activity” has halted.  “It’s like a ghost town in that respect,” he says.

There are still many smaller renovations happening, and in that sense there is still a good deal of activity. Little additions are going up; people are landscaping, doing outside makeovers. They’re adding architectural shingles, installing new windows, creating new facades.

He says the HST probably plays a factor in the slowdown in large renovations.

Mike says there are still buildings going up in Westboro. “But these have been in the works for maybe three years, and the builders just have to keep going.”

Other renovators, too, have said things are changing after the HST. Mike Martin of  Luxury Renovations calls it a “horrible” situation and adds the entire industry has been hit hard because of the new tax.

 

For now, Westboro is still one of the most interesting neighbourhoods in Ottawa, and still a renovator’s dream.

 

But the impact of the HST still leaves the future of  large-scale renovation in an unsettling state. Mike Dion knows this as much as anyone.

 

“It makes people nervous,” he says.