High lumber prices, a global pandemic and other challenges haven’t stopped home builders in Quesnel from having one of their busiest seasons.
“We never slowed down at all,” Lorne Lilley, the owner of E and L Bulldog Construction said. “There were some bigger jobs people decided to wait on, but when they booted out, we picked up other work… Everybody complained when (prices) went up but we never slowed down for building.”
Both Lilley and Icon Homes owner Joe Hart think the increased demand for homes in Quesnel is related to more people moving into the area.
“Covid had something to do with it in that it was a catalyst for people to start moving away from the more populated centres,” Hart said. “People are starting to realize it’s a lot more affordable up here both to buy a home and just to live here.”
Quesnel’s population dropped by 1.8 per cent from 2011 to 2016. Lilley thinks those numbers could reverse when the results of the 2021 census are published in early 2022.
“(The population) has to be going up for sure,” he said. “It seems like there are tons of people from out of town moving here.”
The results of the 2021 census may have missed part of the rise, as residents filled in and submitted their documents during the pandemic.
Hart said before the pandemic 25 per cent of his business was related to people moving into Quesnel from out of town. During the pandemic, that number jumped to 75 per cent.
“The unprecedented thing is I’m getting one to two phone calls or emails a week from people inquiring about new homes, and that’s been pretty much constant right from the beginning of the year,” he said. “We would get one to two calls a month before.”
While the price of building a new house has risen due to higher lumber and building material costs, that isn’t stopping most people who are looking to build.
“(People moving) has made our housing prices go up in general here in Quesnel, which makes it actually more appealing to build now because there’s actually not that much of a difference between building new and buying used,” Hart said.
It’s not just in Quesnel. Hart is a board member of the Canadian Home Builders Association in B.C. The province-wide demand for builders has put a strain on companies looking for workers.
“Everybody’s in the same boat, It’s quite remarkable,” Hart said. “Usually one area or another gets busy… right now everyone is swamped. If you get a good crew you have to hang onto them.”
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