High lumber prices, a global pandemic and other challenges haven’t stopped Quesnel homebuilders from having one of their busiest seasons.
“We never slowed down at all,” said Lorne Lilley, owner of E and L Bulldog Construction. “There were bigger jobs that people decided to wait for, but when they started we took on other jobs… Everyone complained when (prices) went up, but we never slowed down to build.”
Lilley and Icon Homes owner Joe Hart believe the increased demand for homes in Quesnel is related to more people moving to the area.
“Covid had something to do with it in that it was a catalyst for people to start moving away from the most populated centers,” Hart said. “People are starting to realize it’s a lot more affordable here, both to buy a house and just to live here.”
Quesnel’s population fell 1.8% between 2011 and 2016. Lilley thinks those numbers could reverse when the 2021 census results are released in early 2022.
“(The population) definitely needs to increase,” he said. “It seems like there are tons of people from out of town moving here.”
The 2021 census results may have missed some of the upside as residents filled out and submitted their paperwork during the pandemic.
Hart said that before the pandemic, 25% of his business was related to people moving to Quesnel from out of town. During the pandemic, that number jumped to 75%.
“The unprecedented thing is that I get one to two phone calls or emails a week from people inquiring about new homes, and that’s been pretty much constant since the start of the year,” he said. -he declares. “We were getting one or two calls a month before.”
Although the price of building a new home has increased due to rising costs of lumber and building materials, that doesn’t stop most people looking to build.
“(People moving) have driven up our housing prices in general here in Quesnel, which makes building more attractive now because there’s actually not much difference between building new and buying new. ‘opportunity,’ Hart said.
It’s not just in Quesnel. Hart is a board member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in British Columbia. The province-wide demand for builders has put pressure on companies looking for workers.
“Everybody’s in the same boat, it’s pretty remarkable,” Hart said. “Usually one area or another is occupied… right now everyone is overwhelmed. If you get a good crew you have to hang on to it.
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