Massive flood rebuild seen as likely

Southern Alberta’s massive flooding is likely to be followed by a massive rebuild.

Southern Alberta’s massive flooding is likely to be followed by a massive rebuild.

What impact that will have on Central Alberta’s construction sector is currently a matter of conjecture, says the president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association — Central Alberta Region.

“It’s too early to know what we can expect to see,” said Lisa Buckingham, adding that the situation should become clearer as the extent of the damage to homes in Calgary, High River and other communities becomes clearer.

“I would imagine that it will definitely put a strain on our trades,” she said, speculating that the services of Central Albertans like plumbers, electricians and framers will be in high demand.

Buckingham doesn’t expect a mass exodus of tradespeople from this region. But she anticipates that some will relocate, and newly trained journeymen may be more likely to choose Calgary as a place to settle.

Any loss of tradespeople would come at a time when the local housing sector is already feeling the effects of a skilled labour shortage.

“We’re not at the point of 2007 where the demand is as high as it was, but it’s higher than it was two years ago.”

One consequence could be that the timelines for home construction in Central Alberta will grow longer. But Buckingham thinks consumers will be understanding.

A flood-induced construction boom in Southern Alberta could spill into other sectors as well, she added, with demand for building materials and supplies, and even products like appliances and furniture likely to rise.

It’s tough to say when the effects of the flood will be felt on the construction industry, especially with many projects dependent on government funding rather than insurance proceeds, pointed out Buckingham.

Trish Holmes, who owns the Red Deer PuroClean franchise with her husband Gordon, recalled the aftermath of the July 2011 rainstorms that flooded several areas of Central Alberta, including Eckville. Repairs in that town were still taking place a year later, she said.

“The construction industry in general will be busy for a long, long time,” said Holmes of the current situation.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com