Bryce Johnson, Chief Executive Officer with the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead (HBA), said that the pandemic slowed down many industries this past year, but the building industry was not one of them. Contrary to projections, she said, the building industry didn’t miss a beat. In Minnesota, construction was classified as an essential industry, so they could continue to work even during times of shutdown.
Three primary issues are the current focus of the HBA, she commented in a recent presentation to the Moorhead Business Association (MBA): cost of building materials, regulatory concerns, and the skilled labor force. The impact of the past busy year has seen a significant increase in the cost of building materials, Johnson said, with lumber costs increasing by over 200% in one year. “Even doorknobs are now on back order,” she joked.
“We advocate for sensible codes and regulations in the building industry,” she said. One local issue currently being reviewed is the difference in frost depth regulations between Minnesota and North Dakota. This one policy can increase the cost of a home in Minnesota by almost $3,000, as compared with North Dakota, she said, so the HBA is currently working to encourage a border city code change.
Access to skilled labor remains a challenge for many employers, she noted. “When builders can’t find skilled workers, the cost of the home increases.” The HBA has been a strong proponent of the Moorhead Career Academy, since it will provide opportunities for students to explore careers outside of the four-year college path. She cited the many lucrative careers available to employees in the building trades, often making over $26.00 an hour. She also said that the HBA has many scholarships available for students who are interested in pursuing a career in one of the trades.
Along with many other companies and homeowners, the HBA also did a major remodel the past year, and will host an open house on May 26. The Spring Parade of Homes will be featured the first three weekends in May. See www.hbafm.com for more details.