N.L. needs to build 60,000 extra new homes in 6 years. Industry experts aren't sure it can be done

 (John Pike - image credit)
(John Pike - image credit)

(John Pike)

The way Newfoundland and Labrador builds new homes will have to change if the province is going to meet a target of building 60,000 extra new homes over the next six years, say industry experts.

Alexis Foster, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Home Builders' Association, notes 10,000 homes more than double the number of houses built in the province's best year.

"I definitely think it's going to be a reach, and that is putting it mildly," said Foster

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Newfoundland and Labrador needs to build 10,000 more homes a year — over and above what's already being built — for the next six years to meet demand.

That's 60,000 extra units, but the best building year in the province's history, 2012, saw just under 3,900 housing starts, according to data from the corporation.

There are many challenges slowing home construction in the province, said Foster, including a labour shortage and restrictions on the types of homes that can be built.

"We're challenged with issues in development regulations and we're challenged with a labour shortage, it's definitely a high number and I don't know if it's realistic," said Foster.

Curtis Mercer of K&P Contracting says those challenges will make it hard for the province to meet its target.

"How do we build more with less people?" he asked.

"What we need to keep up with demand is densification: more units on one lot, and a mix of all types of houses — like duplexes, high rise and single-dwelling homes — are all needed," said Mercer.

Contractor Andrew Street, owner of Street Property Development, says the construction industry needs to be more innovative.

"We need to move into modular and factory-built-type setups so that we're actually getting things moving quicker in a more controlled environment."

Street says the province can tackle the labour shortage by promoting careers in the construction industry to high school students.

"You can have a really good career in the construction field and make really good money and have good benefits."

WATCH | CBC's The Signal takes on new home builds and the housing crisis:

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