Ottawa Better Homes– Loan Program: Upgrade Your Home with Affordable Financing

Get Expert Guidance from Solify Advisors for the Ottawa Better Homes– Loan Program

Ottawa Better Homes– Loan Program: Upgrade Your Home with Affordable Financing​

Get Expert Guidance from Solify Advisors for the Ottawa Better Homes– Loan Program

The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program (BHOLP) offers homeowners in the City of Ottawa the opportunity to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through home energy efficiency retrofits. Solify is here to support and guide local residence of Ottawa throughout the BHOLP process, helping you make informed decisions and maximize the benefits of this program.

What is 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).

With low-interest, 20-year loans that are tied to the property, not the individual, the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program makes it easier and more affordable for homeowners to pay for these home improvements over time. The minimum loan amount which will be issued to an applicant is $10,000.

The BHOLP was launched in November 2021 with a total of $8 million in zero-interest loans and $4 million in low-interest loans (3.25% interest) – these funds are being disbursed to the first round of applicants. 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. This will allow an estimated 500 residents of Ottawa to access fixed rate (4.33% interest), 20-year loans from the city to undertake energy efficiency retrofits and other home improvements.

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

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

Eligibility Requirements for Ottawa Better Homes– Loan Program

The program is entirely voluntary and can be initiated by the property owner(s) themselves. To be eligible, certain requirements must be met, including:

    • The property must be a residential, detached, semi-detached, townhouse, or residential multi-unit building of 3 stories or less, complying with Part 9 of the Ontario Building Code.
    • The property must have a property tax account with the City of Ottawa.
    • Property owners must have a good payment history with the City of Ottawa, including property taxes, utility bills, and other obligations over the past five years. If there are any outstanding issues, a suitable credit check may be required.
    • The property must not be enrolled in either the CMHC’s Mortgage Deferral Program or the City’s Tax Deferral Program.
Cute family photo session in a calm home environment on a large bed among pillows and cute little things

Eligibility Requirements for Ottawa Better Homes– Loan Program

The program is entirely voluntary and can be initiated by the property owner(s) themselves. To be eligible, certain requirements must be met, including:

    • The property must be a residential, detached, semi-detached, townhouse, or residential multi-unit building of 3 stories or less, complying with Part 9 of the Ontario Building Code.
    • The property must have a property tax account with the City of Ottawa.
    • Property owners must have a good payment history with the City of Ottawa, including property taxes, utility bills, and other obligations over the past five years. If there are any outstanding issues, a suitable credit check may be required.
    • 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 homeBefore-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:

    • Ontario Works
    • Ontario Disability Support Program
    • LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance Grant
    • Guaranteed Income Supplement
    • Allowance for Seniors
  • Allowance for Survivors
  • Healthy Smiles
  • Ontario Electricity Support Program
  • Energy Affordability Program (EAP), formally known as the Home Assistance Program (HAP)

Heat Pump Incentive

The City of Ottawa is directly supporting the installation of high-quality heat pumps as a key technology in the journey towards a zero-emission future. As part of the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program, homeowners can benefit from the Better Homes Ottawa Heat Pump Incentive, which helps reduce the initial cost of installing heat pumps.

Take a look at the eligibility criteria for the equipment and the current incentive amounts available below.

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.

A full list of eligible products can be found here.

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.

Application process for the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program:

1

Complete a pre-retrofit EnerGuide assessment This assessment provides an NRCan EnerGuide rating for the home and recommends customized improvements.

2

Complete the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program Application Form.

3

Receive your Notice to Proceed If the homeowner’s BHOLP Application Form meets all program requirements, a Notice to Proceed is issued, outlining the maximum loan value and program terms.

4

Collect your quotes.

5

Submit your Funding Request Form. At this stage, homeowners can request 50% of the funds upfront to cover deposits. The property owner agreement is signed, and the processing time is typically 3-5 weeks.

6

Retrofit your Home!

7

Complete a post-retrofit EnerGuide assessment. After the retrofit projects are completed, a post-retrofit EnerGuide assessment is conducted.

8

Submit your Project Completion Report.

9

Receive your Final Disbursement. The City of Ottawa provides the balance of the loan to the homeowner, which can be used to pay contractors. This disbursement usually takes around 4 weeks.

Repayment. The homeowner repays the loan over the 20-year term through their property tax bill. They also have the option to pay off the loan in a one-time lump sum without any 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

 

Book A Free Consultation With Us Today!

Discover your eligibility for the Incentives with our expert assistance. Let us help you today!

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.