The Netherlands needs to build 60,000 additional new homes in 6 years. Industry experts are not sure if this is possible


(John Pike)

The way new homes are built in Newfoundland and Labrador must change if the province is to meet its goal of building 60,000 additional homes over the next six years, industry experts say.

Alexis Foster, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Home Builders' Association, points out that 10,000 homes were built, more than twice as many as in the province's best year.

“I definitely think that's too far-fetched, and that's putting it mildly,” Foster said

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Newfoundland and Labrador will need to build 10,000 homes each year over the next six years, in addition to existing housing projects, to meet demand.

That's 60,000 additional housing units, but in the best construction year in the province's history, 2012, only about 3,900 new homes were built, according to the company.

There are many issues slowing down housing construction in the province, Foster said, including a shortage of workers and restrictions on the types of homes that can be built.

“We're facing issues with development regulations and a shortage of labor. That's definitely a high number and I don't know if it's realistic,” Foster said.

Curtis Mercer of K&P Contracting says these challenges will make it difficult for the province to achieve its goals.

“How do we build more with fewer people?” he asked.

“To keep up with demand, we need to increase density: more housing units on one lot and a mix of all house types – such as semi-detached houses, high-rises and single-family homes – all of this is necessary,” said Mercer.

Developer Andrew Street, owner of Street Property Development, believes the construction industry needs to become more innovative.

“We need to move to modular and factory-prefabricated structures so that we can actually move things forward faster in a more controlled environment.”

Street says the province can address the labour shortage by encouraging high school students to pursue careers in the construction industry.

“You can really have a good career in construction, earn really good money and enjoy good social benefits.”

WATCH | CBC's The Signal looks at new home construction and the housing crisis:

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