SAULT STE. MARIE -- After year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent poll reveals more than half of Canadian homeowners are planning renovations.

The Scotiabank poll shows backyards, bathrooms, and kitchens top the list of projects. In Sault Ste. Marie, homeowners seem to be following that trend.

Business is booming for home renovation companies and stores specializing in building materials and hardware.

The Soo Mill is seeing a steady flow of customers, even during the province-wide lockdown and stay-at-home order.

"A lot of people have been made to stay at home and maybe do renovations they didn't plan to do at the time," says manager Greg Hall.

"So, it's been good for us, beneficial for us – which is difficult knowing that other people are suffering."

Hall says customers are focussing on the inside of their homes right now – a trend he expects will change as the weather warms up.

"People are buying a lot of paint, people are doing the interior renovations," says Hall.

"We're going to be seeing a lot more of that stuff change as the fence season and the deck season comes along."

Tracey Rutkauskas, President of the Sault Ste. Marie Real Estate Board, says those interior renovations projects can be tied to the active local resale market.

"I find that if a house is renovated and move-in, turn-key, people are paying for it," says Rutkauskas.

"They are paying a little higher than what they normally would for those types of homes."

Meantime, Hall is expecting an active summer, despite a jump in price for building materials such as lumber.

"Home building is going to be strong, there's a lot of subdivisions that are being built and carrying on even through the pricing that we're seeing right now," he says.

While the do-it-yourself crowds have been steady, Hall says the Soo Mill's install department is facing challenges. That's because public health measures do not allow installation crews to enter homes.