Canadian Contractor

Why most renovations start in the kitchen… and what homeowners might be missing

What web search data tells us about how Canadian homeowners go about finding a contractor online


May 21, 2013
By Steve Payne

Each year, OutRank by Rogers helps small businesses connect with potential customers by securing placement in the results of relevant consumer Google searches. When it comes to general contracting and home renovations, OutRank’s clients appeared in website results for over 2 million of these searches in 2012.

So what is the word most often used by Canadians when searching for a contractor online? For over 850,000 searches that word is ‘kitchen’. This single room of the house is the focus of 40% of keywords filtered through the OutRank database.

A conversation with contractors helps shed some light on what drives this key search term. “The kitchen is an essential room and people take pride in making sure it’s stunning.” said Nick Rudnicki, contractor and owner of Rude Works. “When you buy a home it’s the place where paperwork is signed. It’s also the reason why so many realtors are great at baking cookies. When most people call or email our company it’s because they feel their kitchen is no longer in style, but I’m from the East coast and we invented the kitchen party, so I get it.”

If the kitchen is the crown jewel of entertaining and the first room that many home buyers notice, it begs the question – what aren’t people searching for that might drive even more value to their homes?

For Rudnicki, “There’s a simple rule to keep in mind before setting a budget for your kitchen reno, take a look at the areas of your home that have gone the longest without being renovated. Kitchens are frequently updated and may not be an indicator of the overall health and efficiency of a home.”

In B.C, Jim Frost of Frost Homes recommends investigating what you can’t see. “Electrical is a big one, especially in heritage homes. Some older homes still have knob and tube wiring. It’s essential to look at areas like these. They can be a major risk to the lasting value of a home. In fact a lot of insurance companies charge a premium if your home is still wired this way.”

Even within the kitchen there is more a homeowner can do. Rudnicki suggests “a quick look for water damage or mold, especially before thinking about a renovation, can help identify big problems before you peel back a floorboard.” For Frost record keeping is essential. “Keep track of jobs that have already been done, especially permitted jobs and who did them”, he advises. “This information can be great to have, especially to share with a contractor before your next renovation.”

OutRank recommends searching for renovators who are equipped to handle more than just kitchen renos; remodeling, refacing, remediation, redesign are unique specialties among general contractors. If you are worried about electrical or piping problems in an old house, a search for a General Contractor who is licensed to deal with these systems can make a big difference. These infrequently used search terms can go a long way to telling you how qualified your contractor is to handle problems that might be invisible when a renovation starts.

“Every search matters,” says Carrie Shaw, Director Of Marketing, Outrank by Rogers. “A search can seem small, but the impact can be huge to a homeowner looking to build their dream home. Standing back and looking at the data as a whole gives context to just how big the home renovations market really is. We want to make sure that not only are we helping our contractors find the best jobs for them, but also that homeowners find the information that matters to them most in a sea of search results.”

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