The red hot real estate market has triggered a housing boom on Vancouver Island that builders say they haven’t seen in decades.
Nowhere is this being seen more than in Nanaimo. But in the rush to get jobs complete the shortage of tradespeople due to retirements and people moving away to work in Alberta’s oil patch has put a speed bump in the way.
With completion almost in sight Cheryl Wilson’s vision, her first major gamble on herself as a builder, finally appears close to paying off. The months of eating Raman noodles and worried about money are she hopes almost through,
“I’m all in, everything is invested,” says Wilson.
The four-plex she built from a bare plot of land in downtown Nanaimo is now preparing to hit the market.
“It’s my first project so it’s pretty exciting. It’s been terrifying and awesome,” says Wilson.
Because demand is way up in the midst of a building boom sweeping Vancouver Island, that’s also making finishing projects like Wilson’s more challenging too.
“Finding good reliable trades that aren’t over committed has been one of the bigger challenges on this job,” says Wilson.
Byron Gallant represents the Canadian Homebuilders Association.
“Busiest I’ve seen in 20 years,” says Gallant, who is also a Nanaimo home builder. “So we’re seeing some challenges in meeting the needs of those people.”
Gallant says a shortage in skilled trades due to older workers retiring or relocating to work in the Alberta oil patch has left many builders scrambling and actively recruiting for immediate employment.
“It’s a challenge not only for us to find skilled tradespeople in the carpentry side of things but also dry wallers, electricians, plumbers gas fitters,” says the 20 year veteran of Island construction.
And for the short term, that shortage combined with an ever hotter housing market is likely to slow projects down further.
Though, it won’t stop Wilson from building again as soon as she sells this project. She says she’s hooked working for herself for all the risks and rewards that go with it.