Brad McLaughlin is no stranger to the inner workings of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. As a builder member and past Vice President on their Board of Directors, he has witnessed the Association transform from many different angles; he’s recognized the barriers that needed to be overcome to move the industry forward and he’s benefited from the victories that came from the persistent hard work done by the leaders before him.
Now Brad is taking the lead himself as President of CHBA-NB, and while he admits stepping into the roll means filling big shoes, he feels confident about the Association’s current momentum and its ability to achieve the goals that they’ll be tackling in the years to come.
“I have such a passion for this organization; I’m quite excited to jump into this role and help push our industry goals and priorities forward. We’re already going in the right direction. My goal is to keep us moving ahead while continuing to grow our Association and our leadership position within the industry,” he said.
His first order of business? Getting his foot in more doors to open the lines of communication between the Association and industry stakeholders and potential members.
“It takes a lot of people in the industry working together to find solutions to the current issues, and even though some goals are long-term, we need a more collaborative approach now to get things moving,” the builder suggested.
Not only does Brad’s dedication to relationship-building serve a social purpose (he’s a nice guy, great to chat with and a fountain of industry knowledge!), it serves a strategic one, too – a smart business move that will be vital in pushing the Association’s agenda forward.
By connecting with more of his peers, he’ll be able to gain valuable insights into how CHBA-NB can demonstrate value to builders and help them address their current business issues. By gaining the ears of industry decision-makers, he can help ensure that CHBA-NB is top-of-mind when it comes time to change legislation or remove barriers that stand between the Association and its goals.
Speaking of goals, Brad was laser-focused when it came to sharing his top priorities for the Association.
“For the next couple of years, I have 6 main focuses,” he declared:
Professionalize the residential construction industry in New Brunswick. Get everyone certified and up to date on training so we can ensure the quality of the homes that are being built in this province.
- Get ahead of the Net Zero Ready by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050 requirements. We’re still building to 2010 & 2015 National Building Codes and we need to shift our mindset away from that minimum over to where we need to be in the future so we’re on track before that mandate comes into effect.
- Reduce the underground economy. Not only does the province lose a lot of revenue and taxes from builders who don’t have HST numbers or building permits, their lack of training and liability insurance poses a huge risk to homeowners.
- Increase the development of tradespeople. Many workers in the skilled trades are aging out of the workforce and there’s no one there to replace them. There’s a huge labour shortage right now because of that. Trades are not in the school systems anymore, so we need to bring that back, maybe as early as elementary school so kids can see, touch and build things, and further hone that interest once they hit high school. We also need to make immigration easier to allow trained tradespeople to come work in New Brunswick. There are a lot of people around the world with experience who can do the work, but it’s hard to get them here and on the workforce. There should be a way to fund that or at least fast-track it in our industry’s case.
- Address issues that impact housing affordability. There’s the need to create more social housing, which should be government-run and invested in, and figuring out how, with the costs of supplies being so high and the lack of labour to speed things up, how can we get people to get into homes at a better cost?
- Increasing housing supply. We aren’t close to meeting the current demands of those looking to buy homes now, so how do we overcome that? This is the biggest challenge we’re facing right now. Because it’s not just due to a lack of qualified builders. It’s tradespeople, too – plumbers, welders, electricians – it’s everyone under that whole umbrella of staff required to fulfill production.
While ambitious (change after all does take time) Brad acknowledging that if even his #1 top priority were achieved during his tenure, it would set into motion the wheels of change on the rest.
“We need a certification program for New Brunswick builders. Being properly educated when building a home is so important because there are so many dynamics to it, and as we get into these more efficient wall assemblies to meet Net Zero Ready or Net Zero standards, proper know-how becomes a requirement.
If builders have to be certified in order to run a business in New Brunswick, it addresses the issues with the underground economy and homeowner risk, gets us ahead of the Net Zero goals, and it addresses some of the challenges with housing affordability, because if you’re building more energy-efficient homes, you’re reducing people’s cost of living, because maintenance and power bills become lower,” pointed out the builder, before adding, “And if banks, appraisers and insurance companies got on board and offered benefits to those buying or building energy-efficient homes, it could make purchasing a home even more affordable and attractive”.
Which circles back to Brad’s earlier comment about the need for greater collaboration from all parties within the industry.
“I think there needs to be more collaboration among all the stakeholders to make these priorities a reality. We need everyone to come together as a group and understand our industry’s issues so we can work alongside one another to fix them,” he reiterated.
As a long-time insider, Brad couldn’t help but promote CHBA-NB as the first point of entry for builders who want to join in on the conversation and help shape the industry.
“By joining the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and leveraging membership to network, you can gain knowledge, share ideas and collaborate with other professionals to improve our industry, and that moves our Association forward and builds our businesses. You get access to other professionals across Canada and the advice you get can change your business. It’s a small price to pay for the value you get in return,” he stated.
At the end of the day, Brad’s mandate as CHBA-NB is simple.
“I want to provide value for our members and build a better industry for the citizens of New Brunswick,” he proclaimed.
And if he sets out to build those necessary relationships and grow membership as he intends to, there’s no doubt that’s exactly what he’ll do.
Brad McLaughlin is the President of Canadian Home Builder’s Association – New Brunswick and the General Manager of MCL Construction Ltd. located in Quispamsis, New Brunswick.