Ottawa Better Homes- An initiative to upgrade your home with affordable financing.

“The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program (BHOLP) offers city homeowners the opportunity to become energy efficient. Solify is here to support and guide local residents of Ottawa to make informed decisions throughout the BHOLP process, maximizing the benefits of the program.”

What Is Ottawa Better Homes Loan Program?

About Ottawa Better Homes Loan Program : This program offers low-interest, 20-year loans of up to $125,000 or 10 percent of the current value assessment of the home, whichever is less to cover the cost of home energy improvements.

Eligible measures include thermal envelope upgrades, mechanical systems, renewable energy, EV chargers (Level 2), and the addition of rental suites (up to a maximum of 30% of the value of the loan). The minimum loan amount which will be issued to an applicant is $10,000.

On June 30, 2022, the City of Ottawa recapitalized the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program by securing a $15 million loan agreement with VanCity Community Investment Bank. Which allows an estimated 500 residents of Ottawa to access fixed rate (4.33% interest), 20-year loans from the city .

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Let us go forward in this battle fortified by conviction that those who labour in the service of a great and good cause will never fail.

Work Process

Loan Details

Terms

20 years

Interest Rate

4.33% (Fixed over 20-year Term.)

Minimum Loan Amount

$10,000

Maximum loan amount

10% of tax-assessed property value or $125,000 (whichever is less)

Administrative charge

4% of total loan value

qualify

Eligibility for Ottawa Better Homes Loan Program

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  1. The property must be a residential building (detached, semi-detached, townhouse, or multi-unit up to 3 stories) complying with Part 9 of the Ontario Building Code
  2. It must have a property tax account with the City of Ottawa, and the owner must have a good payment history with the city over the past five years, including taxes, utility bills, and other obligations. If issues exist, a credit check may be required.
  3. The property must not be enrolled in either the CMHC’s Mortgage Deferral Program or the City’s Tax Deferral Program.

Does your household meet this income threshold?

If your household meets any one of the following requirements, you may be eligible for a 0% interest, 20-years loan with a 20-years payback period through the Ottawa Better Homes – Loan Program. Income-qualified applicants will also have their administrative fee waived and have the option of working with a retrofit project manager.

Number Of People In The Home Before-Tax Household Income
1$42,437
2$60,014
3$73,501
4$84,872
5$94,890
6$103,947
7+$112,275

Or, you receive assistance from one of these government programs:

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Going solar reduces electricity bills, increases energy independence, boosts property value,
and supports a sustainable environment by lowering carbon emissions.

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Heat Pump Incentive

The City of Ottawa is directly supporting the installation of high-quality heat pumps. An incentive which helps reduce the initial cost of installing heat pumps.

Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps

To be eligible for the incentive, your heat pump must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be listed on Natural Resource Canada’s list of cold climate air source heat pumps and available in Canada.
  • It must have a capacity maintenance percentage of 80% or greater.
  • It must have a rated heating capacity of at least 12,000 BTUs.
  • It must have a noise rating of 55dB or less during the cooling season.
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Here are the incentive amounts based on the type of heat pump:

    • $300/ton for central cold climate air source heat pumps.
    • $200/ton for mini split/multi split cold climate air source heat pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps

To be eligible for the incentive, ground source heat pumps must meet the following criteria

  • They should be listed on Natural Resource Canada’s list of ground source heat pumps.
  • They must have a noise rating of 55dB or less during the cooling season.
A full list of eligible products can be found here.

The incentive amounts for ground source heat pumps are as follows:

  • $500 per ton for ground source heat pump systems.
  • $5 per meter of vertical well depth for vertical systems.
  • $5 per meter of horizontal loop (piping length) for horizontal systems.
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Work Process

Application process for the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program:

If your household meets any one of the following requirements, you may be eligible for a 0% interest, 20-years loan with a 20-years payback period through the Ottawa Better Homes – Loan Program. Income-qualified applicants will also have their administrative fee waived and have the option of working with a retrofit project manager.

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  1. Pre-Retrofit EnerGuide Assessment: Get an EnerGuide rating and improvement recommendations.
  2. Application Form: Complete the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program (BHOLP) application.
  3. Notice to Proceed: If the application meets requirements, receive a notice with the maximum loan value and terms.
  4. Collect Quotes: Gather quotes for the retrofit work.
  5. Funding Request Form: Submit this form to request up to 50% of the funds upfront for deposits. Sign the property owner agreement (takes 3-5 weeks processing time).
  6. Retrofit: Complete the home retrofits.
  7. Post-Retrofit EnerGuide Assessment: Conduct a post-EnerGuide assessment.
  8. Project Completion Report: Submit this report.
  9. Final Disbursement: Receive the remaining loan balance to pay contractors (around 4 weeks processing time).
  10. Repayment: Repay the loan over 20 years via the property tax bill, or pay it off in a lump sum without penalty.

Eligible Measures

The Ottawa Better Homes – Loan Program includes a range of eligible measures that can help homeowners improve the energy efficiency and comfort of their homes. These measures, subject to permits, regulations, and Energy Star certification, may include:

Thermal Envelope Upgrades

    • Insulation for attics, walls, foundations, and basements, along with associated requirements such as attic ventilation, foundation drainage, and waterproofing.
    • Installation of air barriers, air sealing, and weather stripping.
    • Replacement of windows, skylights, tubular daylighting devices, exterior window shadings or films, and exterior doors (if located around heated space).
    • Implementation of green roofs.

Mechanical Systems (Space Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation)

    • thermostats and controllers
    • energy or heat recovery ventilators
    • Iair-source heat pumps
    • ground-source heat pumps
    • biomass wood heaters
    • heat distribution systems
    • duct sealing
    • fans
    • associated electrical equipment as required.

Mechanical Systems (Water Heating)

    • high-efficiency water heaters (e.g., heat pumps, electric water tanks, etc.)
    • drain water heat recovery systems
    • solar hot water systems

Renewable Energy, Energy Storage, and EV Chargers

    • solar photovoltaic system
    • electric vehicle charging stations (Level 2)
    • battery storage devices
    • associated electrical and load management equipment

Water Efficiency

    • low-flow toilets
    • hot water circulation pump and system
    • greywater treatment system
    • closed-loop shower water recovery system
    • rainwater harvesting system (subject to eligibility criteria)

Health and Safety

    • environmental remediation
    • electrical wiring and panel upgrades are required undertakings to permit energy improvements

Climate Adaptation

    • back-flow prevention valves
    • sump pumps
    • basement waterproofing
    • permeable pavement
    • tree planting

 

Other Items

Note: costs for “other” items combined must not exceed 30% of the total loan value.

    • audit costs
    • permit costs
    • demolition costs
    • paint and drywall repairs related to insulation improvements
    • waste or asbestos removal related to retrofits
    • additional dwellings such as granny suites or basement apartments

 

FAQs

Does my home qualify?

Eligibility requirements for the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program are as follows:
    • Residential, detached, semi-detached, townhouse, residential multi-unit buildings of 3 stories or less, that fall under Part 9 of the Ontario Building Code.
    • The property must have a property tax account with the City of Ottawa. Property tax, utility bills, and all other payment obligations to the City of Ottawa for the past five years must be in good standing. If it is not, the homeowner must submit a suitable credit check.
    • The property must not be in either CHMC’s Mortgage Deferral Program or the City’s Tax Deferral Program.

What is the minimum amount I will be eligible for?

Please note that the minimum loan amount which will be issued to an applicant is $10,000.

Can I receive funding for upgrades completed before receiving program approval?

No. Any upgrades completed before receiving your Notice to Proceed will not be eligible to receive funding. Eligible costs are those that are incurred after the Notice to Proceed is issued.

What happened to the zero-interest loans?

The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program had limited funding to provide zerointerest loans to applicants. This funding has been spoken for. The program is now able to provide 4.33% interest, 20-year loans. At a fixed rate over 20 years, this loan still offers the opportunity for applicants to save money through energy savings while improving the comfort of their properties.

PROGRAM TIMELINES & DOCUMENTATION

How long does it take for my application to be reviewed?

It will take approximately two weeks. Once you submit your application form, the City of Ottawa will review your property tax and utility accounts to ensure you are in good standing. If you are a new homeowner with less than 5 years of payment history, they will request a Credit Score. A minimum Credit Score of 600 will be required to receive program approval.

How long does it take to receive my initial disbursement?

    • Your Property Owner Agreement will have to be executed by the City of Ottawa before the City’s finance department begins processing your initial disbursement. The total processing time is 7 to 8 weeks before your initial disbursement is mailed out by the city.

How long does it take to receive my final disbursement?

It will be 4 weeks before the City of Ottawa mails out your final disbursement.

RECEIVING & PAYING BACK YOUR LOAN

What is the cost of borrowing and how is it calculated?

The cost of borrowing indicates the value of the interest that will be paid over the lifetime of the loan. This is included in the maximum eligible Local Improvement Charge (LIC), which cannot exceed 10% of property value, to ensure that applicants are taking on manageable loans, inclusive of interest payments.

How long is the payback period?

The Better Homes Ottawa Loan can be paid back over a twenty-year period, or you can pay it back as quickly as you choose by making a one-time lump sum payment.

Are there any administrative costs associated with accessing the loan?

Yes, there is an administrative fee equal to 4% of the total loan value. This is added to your total loan repayment and paid back through the LIC over the 20-year loan period.

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