March 23rd, 2018

Homebuilders set to see who’s best

By Collin Gallant on March 14, 2018.

Crews install windows, siding and a metal roof at a Dunmore Road residence on Tuesday. Recent building permit figures suggest more valuable home renovations are taking place in the city.--NEWS PHOTO COLLIN GALLANT

Well, they say the customer is always right.

The local home construction industry will gather this week to honour their own, but a new award involves Hatters picking the top crowd pleaser at the 2017 Parade of Homes.

The eighth annual Canadian Homebuilders Awards of Excellence will be revealed this Friday at a gala at the Medicine Hat Lodge.

Local members will vie for traditional awards for specific size home design, supplier, builder and renovator of the year.

But for the first time, the Community Choice award, voted on by the general public, will honour the public’s reaction to the yearly new home showcase.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on having a blind vote of industry experts,” said CHBA board member Jackie Taylor, who says most awards are decided by asking CHBA members in other cities to rank entries that have been stripped of company logos.

“At the end of the day though, the people who decide what they like best are the people in our community.”

The event honours the best in local and near region construction, said Taylor, who adds more than 150 tickets have already been sold to the event.

“We’re on par to have our biggest event yet in terms of most entries and most attendees,” said Taylor.

In the awards categories, 14 local companies and suppliers are represented among 54 entries in 20 different categories.

Home permits on par with last year

New home permits remain on pace with last winter, according to new figures released by the city’s planning department, while the number and scope of residential renovations is increasing.

Late last year, the city’s planning department staff noted to the News that while new builds continued to lag in 2017, renovations were picking up. To some observers, it signals a modest improvement in economic confidence.

New departmental statistics show that 62 renovation permits have been let in 2018, compared to 52 in the first two months of 2017. The value of the work however, has more than doubled to $1.35 million. That and more substantial commercial renos keeps the year-over year change essentially static once major one-time projects are excluded.

Over all categories, 39 building permits in February were attached to estimated budgets of $2.3 million.

That’s compared to $22.46 million one year earlier, though that month included a $19 million attached to school modernization.

Boosting the recent months totals were seven substantial commercial renovation permits, bringing the two-month total to $5.3 million, up from $2.1 million at this point last year.

Most other categories were mostly even year-over-year.

New home permits were zero, but after nine were approved in January, the combined two-month period is similar to early 2017.

According to federal housing figures, the Medicine Hat region is moving ahead of last year’s levels in terms of starts, according to the Canadian Mortgage and housing association.

For the census area, 12 homes and seven multi-family units are underway, for a total of 19 housing units, up from eight this time last year.

Medicine Hat joined the Calgary and Edmonton regions as well as the city of Lethbridge as the only areas with positive construction growth over the first two months.

Wood Buffalo was down sharply as wildfire reconstruction moves forward. Grande Prairie and Red Deer were more even, but lower.

Starts differ from permits in that it considers the actual state of construction.

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