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Home builders’ association optimistic despite drop in P.E.I. construction

Housing market
Housing market

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – In spite of a nearly 40 per cent drop in new home construction from 2012 levels, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of P.E.I. says there are plenty of signs for optimism.

The association’s executive director Todd MacEwen said a variety of factors contributed to the decrease, including the introduction of new taxes and a shrinking workforce.

MacEwen said the increase in HST on new homes gave prospective buyers and builders a “serious case of sticker shock” when the changes took effect in 2013, combined with changes in mortgage rules, variable interest rates and a shrinking workforce.

But that trend could turn around around over the next five to 10 years, the association says.

BuildForce Canada and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation have released forecasts for the province that predict slow, but marked growth in residential construction in the coming years. The growth is mirrored by what are expected to be steady immigration numbers over the short term.

“This has been and will continue to be a huge stimulus to the sector, particularly in terms of new residential construction in Charlottetown and communities such as Stratford and Cornwall,” said MacEwen.

With the uptake in residential construction, there will also be a greater demand for skilled tradespeople to meet the demand. The association estimates the housing cycle will add between 300 and 400 new jobs in the province.

The association’s executive director Todd MacEwen said a variety of factors contributed to the decrease, including the introduction of new taxes and a shrinking workforce.

MacEwen said the increase in HST on new homes gave prospective buyers and builders a “serious case of sticker shock” when the changes took effect in 2013, combined with changes in mortgage rules, variable interest rates and a shrinking workforce.

But that trend could turn around around over the next five to 10 years, the association says.

BuildForce Canada and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation have released forecasts for the province that predict slow, but marked growth in residential construction in the coming years. The growth is mirrored by what are expected to be steady immigration numbers over the short term.

“This has been and will continue to be a huge stimulus to the sector, particularly in terms of new residential construction in Charlottetown and communities such as Stratford and Cornwall,” said MacEwen.

With the uptake in residential construction, there will also be a greater demand for skilled tradespeople to meet the demand. The association estimates the housing cycle will add between 300 and 400 new jobs in the province.

The association hopes to work with the provincial government and Holland College to attract a more youthful and diverse group to consider careers in the trades, especially since there is the prospect of local employment.

The province wide adoption of the National Building Code, expected to be introduced this spring in the legislature, could be gradually applied to residential, commercial and industrial construction across the province. Only Charlottetown, Summerside and Stratford now adhere to the code.

“The code sets that standards for residential construction and at the end of the day, its primary effect will be to ensure the health, safety and well being of homeowners,” said MacEwen. “The underground economy, especially in construction, can lead to many corners being cut and without warranties, guarantees or insurance, homeowners are left on there own to counter faulty and poor workmanship with little recourse.”

The association is also developing projects and programs to meet the demand of aging-in-place strategies that would allow homeowners to remain in their houses as they grow older. For news homes, this may be something incorporated into the design and older homes would benefit from renovation and retrofitting. 

Energy efficiency is another topic key topic the association is focused on. 

“We think it’s important the people start thinking now about what they can do to their homes,” said MacEwen. “The immediate investment is paid for over the long term, both financially and environmentally, so it benefits everyone in the end.”

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