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Canadian Home Builders’ Association unveils strategy to build 5.8 million homes and address housing crisis

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Recently, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) released a strategy outlining the changes and supports needed to allow 5.8 million homes to be built over the next decade — the goal being to improve housing affordability and boost Canada’s housing supply.

“What we are tabling is a strategy to support the industrialization of the sector. And just as last year’s federal budget put forth a made-in-Canada plan for a clean economy to address the climate crisis, we are presenting a made-in-Canada plan for housing supply to address the housing crisis,” CHBA’s CEO, Kevin Lee, explains.


“It is important to hear from the home building sector itself”


He continues, “There has been a lot of coverage in the media talking about solutions to building more homes, but it is important to hear from the home building sector itself — the very people who know first-hand about the challenges and opportunities, who on a daily basis are experiencing what is and what is not working.”

Lee explains that the association’s Modular Construction Council and site-built members bring “a wealth of expertise to the table on how to actually address the barriers to getting more supply.”


What the strategy entails


The Sector Transition Strategy is focused on labour, productivity and related recommendations. It emphasizes the need for a full approach to enable more production, starting with financial and policy changes that let more first-time buyers enter the market. This includes 30-year amortization periods for first-time buyers of newly constructed homes (since the proposal only includes new homes, this would hinder demand and create more supply).

The CHBA notes that if Canada fixes the financial and policy barriers and creates an environment conducive to more construction, the industry will be dealing with more extreme labour shortages than they are currently. This means that the country’s immigration system needs changes to attract skilled workers for residential construction, and the current population should be encouraged to pursue careers in skilled trades and support apprenticeship programs.


A transition to factory-built construction


The association also states that to double housing starts, we need a fundamental shift in how homes are built to increase productivity, given the labour shortage — for instance, with more factory-built construction in the right environment (as factories require high capital investment, high overhead, a steady workforce and steady throughput).

Benefits of factory-built homes include faster construction with fewer delays and less ramp-up in labour.

“The reason we build homes the way we do now is that the sector and its business structures are set up to deal with the boom-and-bust cycles that housing goes through. In order to see a transition to more factory-built systems, government support will be needed initially to substantiate the business case and de-risk the investments,” says Lee.

The Strategy outlines these risks and mitigation ideas to facilitate moving towards more factory-built homes.


“CHBA has been engaging with the federal government on the recommendations from this Strategy, and we hope to see support for it moving forward. Canada has a huge housing challenge, but also a huge opportunity — this Strategy outlines how to get there,” Lee concludes.


Read the full strategy here.


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