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SAWDAC Newsletter Fall 2017 – Talk to your customers about renovation

October 18, 2017  By Jason Neal SAWDAC

Talk renovation with your customers – A letter to SAWDAC members from Jason Neal, executive director.

To renovate or move is a big question your customers will be facing now with the housing market in a boom. Situations change and so do their needs for their homes. A growing family may mean they need to upgrade or renovate their homes or even move. Adult children leaving the nest means repurposing rooms with possibly more money to spend than before. Retirement often means downsizing, but some customers will prefer to stay in their family home. So, should they remodel or move? If, like most small and medium-sized fenestration dealers, the bulk of your business comes from renovations and replacements, you’ll want to be able to discuss the pros and cons and the impact each decision will have on their options for windows and doors.  

Both options have pitfalls and headaches. We have all moved, whether it was out of our parents’ house or onwards and upwards, and usually in both those cases we have renovated somewhat. Both of these situations can cause stress and financial burden. However, at SAWDAC we are seeing more renovations than selling taking place. Dealers are saying that clients are coming in and spending equity from the housing boom. What they are hearing is that selling your home and buying another could cost as much as 10 per cent of the price of the new home and that people are renovating when they move in anyways. Some of the things to consider when moving are commissions, legal fees and loan fees, to name a few. These fees mean a huge loss of capital that they have built up in their current home.

When you look at the cost/ benefit of moving over renovations, renovations are a more cost-effective way to upgrade living space. But if customers renovate, they can risk spending their homes out of the current location. If the neighborhood is filled with $500,000 houses, their house is going to be worth around $500,000. When they spend $250,000 on renovations, that’s money they will never get back if they try to sell in that location. This is where you need to ask some questions and be familiar with local housing markets to see what scenario makes sense for that family. If they are staying in the house indefinitely, the resale value may not matter to them. If they are in one of the hot housing markets in the country, like Toronto or Vancouver, they may be able recoup any investment in a bidding war for their house. Anything you can tell the customer about how the renovations will affect the value of their home will be welcome information.


Remodeling can seem to be more daunting than buying a home for many people. Your customer should be advised to work with a certified renovation contractor to figure out what they want to do, then build a budget around that. They need to do background checks on their builder, because if they end up with an incompetent one both you and them are asking for trouble either now or later. Because of your experience, you might be in a great position to give them some feedback on whom they have selected. A reputable builder will give your clients names of recent jobs. They should take a drive by to see the work. They should also ask the references if the job was done on time and on budget. And then there are the internet reviews, though some of these need to be taken with a grain of salt. Obviously, they should be calling SAWDAC to ask for a member or a certified Window Wise installer!

The next step will be paying for the renovations. Working with a certified SAWDAC dealer gives them help with financing options through our RenoPlan program with access to all types of different payment scenarios. A lot of homeowners decide to use their line of credit, but experience here tells us that line-of-credit borrowers tend to simply pay the interest and never reduce the debt. The best way to borrow for renovations is a principal and interest loan, where they are required to pay it back.

A lot of this will seem to be outside your scope of just providing windows and doors. But building a trusting relationship with your customers is a route to referrals and repeat business. If you are able to address some of these topics with your prospective clients, they may be more ready to put off moving and work with you instead.

For more information, visit sawdac.com

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