More trade workers needed to keep up with housing demand

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 9:41 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - From Hampton Cove to South Huntsville, new development is ramping up fast across the entire city. But, there are some challenges builders and developers are facing when it comes to managing the rapid growth.

According to Barry Oxley, Executive Officer of the Huntsville Madison County Builders Association, there is a shortage of skilled workers. As a result, a house that would have taken about 6 or 7 months to complete two years ago, is now taking up to 12 months. About 20 different trades go into building a house or complex of any kind and right now, the system is stressed.

Oxley’s team is working to meet the demands in order to stay ahead of the curve. In fact, their trade school, the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy put nearly 100 people in the workforce last year. Oxley said students range from 18 years old to 40 years old.

“It’s a great time for people if they are thinking about making a job change,” Oxley said. “There are so many different opportunities and you’ll have a long career.”

Huntsville was able to meet the demand for housing in 2020, but the problem is keeping up with a strained system.

“Three years ago, we built 1,900 homes in Madison County and the city limits of Limestone County. Last year in 2020 we built almost 4,000, so almost doubled in three years,” Oxley said. “So it is straining it but there are still opportunities to grow out there. We have got to keep on dealing with the trade shortage and get more people into the trades to help catch that up.”

According to Oxley, nearly 40,000 people are expected to move to the Huntsville area over the next five years. Along with trade workers, more active and open lots need to become available to meet the demand.

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