Pent-up housing demand breaking records for home construction in Whitehorse

A report to city council says the value of home construction in Whitehorse this year is way up over last year.

Report to city council says the value of home construction this year is way up compared to last year

The city of Whitehorse says the number of development permits and the value of home construction are significantly higher this year compared to last year. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Whitehorse is experiencing a home building boom this year.

A report to city council Monday said the number of development permits issued for new homes in 2020 has set a record.

It says the total value of home construction so far this year is about $41 million compared to around $24 million at this time last year.

Councillor Dan Boyd said it's something the city should keep an eye on.

"In some aspects of it, we're up 50 to 100 per cent almost," he said.

"I think it's worth shining a light on that and trying to maybe drill down and analyze it a little bit to try and understand what we need to do, if anything, right now to try to manage this on a go-forward basis."

Home building company Redbeard Construction is booked through this winter and into the spring. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Mike Gau, the head of development services for the city says demand for housing is causing the sharp rise in construction.

He said low mortgage rates and demographics are two of the reasons fuelling the demand.

"The number of people in a single house now is smaller, so therefore the same number of people need more housing," said Gau.

"People have been putting away money because of the COVID-19 restrictions and now are able to buy a house when maybe they couldn't [before]," he said.

He said the demand is also pushing home prices higher. 

Bruce Montgomery, the owner of Redbeard Construction, says he gets about two calls a week from people looking for a homebuilder. (Dave Croft/CBC)

The territorial government is releasing building lots for sale this month, said Gau, which should result in more home building in the spring.

Bruce Montgomery, the owner of Redbeard Construction in Whitehorse, said he's booked well into next year.

"It's busy, I get a couple of calls a week," he said.

"I usually try and book them in if I can or refer them to other contractors I know," said Montgomery.

He said the only issue that's come up for him is ensuring a steady supply of building materials. 

The high demand for materials sometimes means he has to wait. The most recent example was deck boards, he said.