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June 03, 2021

The high costs of building green

Have you survived the green renovation project from hell? Still up to your eyeballs in BluWood and geo-thermal units? Government grants dried up during construction?

If your eco-friendly reno has weathered a number of mistakes, budget blow-outs or shoddy construction, you’re certainly not alone. Most renovation projects come with a surprise of some kind but giving your home a green feel can come at a high cost – financially and emotionally.

The green building industry is moving so fast, with technology and products being introduced and improved all the time. That's why it's really hard for homeowners – and even for contractors – to keep up, says Mike Holmes, Canada's white knight of home renovation.

And, with all the financial incentives to build green, everyone seems to be getting on the bandwagon, he warns. The result: Lots of on-the-job training at your expense and more than a few contractors who simply aren't what they seem.

That’s what a retired couple in Brighton, Ontario found as they blew their life savings trying to build an energy efficient home with a small café on the ground floor to cater to locals and tourists.

They were told they would receive $60,000 in government rebates for building green, but the money never materialized, according to the Toronto Star.

But that’s nothing compared to the final tab, where the project’s costs ballooned to more than double the estimate, thanks to a questionable architectural design, poor site supervision and shoddy construction.

Sound familiar?

Have you had a green renovation go wrong? How did you cope? And how did it all turn out?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...