Nfld. & Labrador

Construction rebate providing big boost to N.L. industry, says association CEO

The rebate allows homeowners to save money on construction and renovation projects, while also helping to stimulate the economy and construction industry. Friday is the last day to apply for the rebate.

Friday is the last day to apply for the rebate

The demand for building materials and supplies has been higher than normal this summer. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

With Friday being the last day to apply for the provincial government's residential construction rebate, contractors and builders across the province say they are seeing a big boost in business over the summer months.

The $30-million rebate program, announced in June by Finance Minister Tom Osborne, allows homeowners to save money on construction and renovation projects, while also helping to stimulate the economy and construction industry. The program allows homeowners to apply for either a 25 per cent rebate on home renovation projects, or a rebate of up to $10,000 on a new home valued up to $350,000 before taxes.

A press release from the provincial government Friday says an estimated 8,500 homeowners have applied for the rebate as of Thursday. Curtis Mercer, CEO of the provincial branch of the Canadian Home Builders' Association, estimates that when all is said and done there will be around 10,000 applications. He said the sheer volume means there will be some delays in responding but his group and the provincial government are working hard to process all applications.

"The uptake in the program from both the contractor side and the homeowner side has been tremendous. The program is doing what it was designed to do," he said.

Curtis Mercer, the interim CEO of the N.L. chapter of the Canadian Home Builders' Association, says he expects there will be 10,000 applications for the provincial construction and renovation rebate. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"We've heard from a number of contractors right across the province and in Labrador that they haven't seen it like this since before the boom in 2012 and 2013. A lot of contractors have had to hire additional staff, either office staff or contracting staff, to keep up with the work.… It's a big benefit. We needed it in our industry."

According to Statistics Canada, the dollar value of building permits issued in the province rose 71 per cent from numbers in May — much higher than the six per cent average across the country.

Scott Wilson, owner of Sun Valley Greenhouses in St. John's, said he has seen business increase dramatically over the summer, and says the rebate has been an important factor.

"I think sales are probably doubled, if not tripled maybe, this year. I would certainly think the rebate program certainly added to that," Wilson said. "Perhaps the whole pandemic and people being home and trying to be more self-sustainable, that might have added to it as well."

Supply for materials can't meet demand, Wilson

Wilson said the rebate can cover just about any home renovation project, from greenhouses to kitchen counters and decks. However, with added business comes more demand for the necessary materials.

"[A lack of supplies] is the biggest challenge this year," he said.

Scott Wilson, who owns Sun Valley Greenhouses in St. John's, says the increased demand for building supplies means there's no guarantee every job will be finished this year. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"Most of my greenhouses are cedar, and the other component is the polycarbon, the panels that I use. I've found this year it's almost like a seesaw; I'll hit a wood supply, than I'll get low on polycarbonate. I'll get a good polycarbonate supply, I'll get low on wood."

Wilson said the price of cedar has gone up several times in recent months, going from around $10.20 per piece of two-by-four to $11.35. Products like wood stain are also virtually sold out across St. John's, with Wilson having to travel to Glovertown to find it.

With all work needing to be completed by March 31 of next year and demand outweighing supply, Wilson said, getting the jobs finished will be a challenge.

"With any new orders that I'm getting right now, with the orders that I have and [that are] backed up and with the limited supplies that I have, I can't guarantee any orders that I would get now," he said.

"If we get an early winter this year, some of the customers probably won't get their greenhouses that have ordered them just recently, but we're going to work as hard as we can and as long as we can."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Meg Roberts

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