Improving Our Industry, One Builder at A Time
Updated: Apr 29
You’ve likely heard the expression “built to code” concerning new home construction or renovations, but have you ever wondered what “building to code” really means?
“Building to code” means that the contractor is adhering to the minimum standards required to meet public health and safety measures, and to ensure that the home meets efficiency standards in terms of energy and water usage.
While this may seem fine in theory, it doesn’t consider how fast things change in the industry. You see, building technology and systems are constantly evolving, so it stands to reason that meeting the minimum standards means building to a model that is already outdated.
And while that might not deter some builders or faze some consumers so long as the job gets done and the cost is right, leaders in the industry like Brad McLaughlin are lobbying hard to see Canada raise its standards to a higher level so that all new homes are built with the future in mind.
“We’re building a product that is going to last a long time. Why would we continue to build to codes that are behind the times?” said Brad McLaughlin, General Manager of MCL Construction Ltd.
Brad grew up in the industry and therefore learned firsthand how important it was to think proactively when it comes to adopting building practices.
“My father started this company in 1978. In the early 80s when the R-2000 Program first came out, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association was offering training to its members. He started right away and incorporated energy efficiency into his builds early on. Now with Net Zero standards coming in, I get to continue his trend of being ahead of the pack with future-ready training.”
The way Brad sees it, building to a higher standard means you’re not only giving your clients a better product, but you’re also doing your part to help the environment and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions the construction industry is responsible for. With such a philosophy guiding the way, it should come as no surprise that MCL Construction Ltd. was the first company in Atlantic Canada to build a CHBA Qualified Net Zero Home, an accomplishment that Brad takes to heart.
“There’s something really special about taking someone’s dream or design and making it real while adding in energy efficient components so it’ll be healthier and more cost-efficient to run in the future.”
Of course, it also doesn’t hurt when your work goes on to earn industry praise and recognition, a feeling the multi-award-winning builder has become very familiar with.
“It’s exciting to call a client up to let them know that their home won an award. And it encourages us to keep upping our game each year.”
By the way Brad speaks about the sense of accomplishment that comes with building a high-quality product, you might think that training is an obvious choice for builders who want to stay competitive in the field. The reality of that matter, however, is a little bit different.
“I think the biggest thing holding builders back from getting the training required to elevate their builds is the idea that they don’t need it. I often hear, “Oh, I know what I’m doing,” and my argument to that is, “Would you get your heart operated on by someone who simply said, “No, I’m not a doctor, but it’s ok, I know what I’m doing”?
While Brad jokes to illustrate a point, at the heart of the matter is a simple desire to see the industry raise its standards to everyone’s benefit.
“Construction is the most unregulated industry in a lot of provinces. A lot of nightmare situations have happened because of that. I think we need a registry here in New Brunswick to verify that builders have the credentials they need to do a job; a system where builders pay a fee, take mandatory training, and if they don’t have the credentials, they aren’t able to get a building permit.”
Brad went on further to explain.
"By having more builders do this, we make it the norm; we raise the standards for the industry and ultimately, build better homes. There’s only a small number of Registered Energy Efficient Builders in New Brunswick right now compared to the total number of builders; it’s sort of a niche market.”
But knowing that the government has plans to change the way homes are built, Brad urges builders to be proactive and act now.
"As more consumers become aware of the impact of residential construction on greenhouse gas emissions and how their choices help to reduce that impact, the higher the demand will be on builders to get the training they need to build the types of homes consumers will want, so if you’re not doing this already, you should start now. It’s a process and it takes time. There’s a lot of learning along the way.”
Brad suggested that homeowners can also play a part in shifting the industry forward. For instance, they can help drive the demand for builders with more qualifications.
“When you’re hiring someone to work on your home, see what their training is. Have they done energy efficient training? Have they taken the time to educate themselves and their crews? Things change so much, and builders need to stay on top of these things. Without the proper training, it could cause issues down the road for homeowners and that’s not good.”
One way to ensure you’re hiring a qualified builder for your project, Brad suggests, is to check out the registered builders backed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick.
“When you’re looking for a builder and see that they are a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick, you know they are reputable, highly trained, follow a Code of Ethics and are dedicated to doing things the right way.”
And Brad didn’t skip a beat when he had a chance to advocate for the association and its members as invaluable resources for builders who are looking to improve their skills, too.
“If you’re looking for answers, reach out to other builders who have the credentials you seek and ask questions, or call the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick and find out about training to become a Registered Energy Efficient Builder. The value of becoming a member far exceeds the fee. It’s linked me to so many experts within the industry; they promote me, support me - they even make running a business easier and sometimes less costly.”
Regardless of where a builder turns to advance their skillset, the fact of the matter is this: monumental changes are coming to the construction industry in Canada. If builders continue to live by the “build it to code” mentality until the last minute, they will be forced to catch up with a looming deadline in front of them.
By taking the proactive approach and getting the training they need now, they can join their future-ready counterparts (like Brad and his team at MCL Construction Ltd.) and face those changes as if they were part of any other day on the job site.
If you’re a builder who wants to improve your skills, check out the Registered Energy Efficient Builders (REEB) Program to find out how you can join leaders like Brad in New Brunswick’s construction field.
Are you a homeowner who wants to learn more about your energy efficient options when it comes to building or renovating, or on the hunt for a registered builder in your area? The REEB Program can help with that, too.
Brad McLaughlin is a Platinum-level REEB and the General Manager of MCL Construction Ltd. located in Quispamsis, New Brunswick.
He is also a proud member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick and the winner of their 2020 “Renovator of the Year,” “Best Whole House Renovation,” and “Best Bathroom Renovation” awards.
Certifications: R-2000 | Net Zero
For more about the team at MCL Construction Ltd., visit www.mclconstruction.ca