Nailed it! Home improvement webinars

For nearly two years, working and socializing remotely through online platforms has become the norm. Evolving health restrictions meant more time spent at home, scrutinizing our spaces, and motivating many homeowners to take on renovations.

It is estimated that nearly half of Canadians started or were considering home renovations over the pandemic and The City of Calgary saw residential improvement permits up 33 per cent over the past two years. For City employees, an increased interest in renovations meant more building permits, more inspections, and increased inquiries from Calgarians looking for renovation advice.  

“Prior to the pandemic, we attended home shows and held community events as a way to connect with Calgarians and offer face-to-face support on topics like permits and inspections,” says Cliff de Jong, manager of Calgary Safety Services. “After we were mandated to work from home, all the events were cancelled and so were our opportunities to connect in-person with citizens.”

Within the context of these unique circumstances, Calgary Building Services saw an opportunity to pioneer a series of online webinars in the Fall of 2020 to help Calgarians get the answers they needed on a variety of building topics. While it took one or two practice sessions before the team found their footing and got comfortable presenting online, the webinar program has surged in popularity for Calgarians looking for information regarding home renovations. To date, the team has delivered webinars on a wide variety of timely topics including: mould, renting and renovating basements suites, and building decks, to name a few. In addition, The City also began offering virtual inspections for plumbing, gas, building and electrical that can be booked online.

In the hour-long free webinars, participants have access to City experts like planning service technicians and safety codes officers who can offer immediate answers to questions and help to ensure both contractors and do-it-yourselfers have everything in place before getting started. Each webinar is accessible in multiple languages and captioned. 

I think people are just more comfortable online. It's a little more anonymous,” explains Cliff. “Instead of getting up in front of a room full of people and speaking into a mic, you can just type your question in a chat. I think it prompts people to be more participatory.

All webinars are recorded so those who cannot join live can watch the content at their convenience, all from the comfort of their own home.

“After offering the first few webinars we discovered that participants were asking very thoughtful questions, asking for advice – the effectiveness of delivering information through these webinars was obvious,” says Cliff.  “What started as a need and innovation as a reaction to the situation brought about by the pandemic will now be an option we will continue to offer. With the ability to have translated information in real time, the webinars are so powerful at providing the opportunity to reach a wide range of Calgarians, something we may not be able to provide in-person, all of the time.”

Calgary.ca/webinar

THANK YOU! I loved learning about this and I hope the City continues to offer these meets. Incredibly educational! All the best to you all!

– Participant, Preventing Mould in Homes

Categories: Building, Home improvement, Planning

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