Finalists for this year’s HAVAN Awards showcase the best of the best in BC’s home-building industries

Kemp Construction’s Nestled in the Cedars is a finalist for 2023 HAVAN Awards for Best New Custom Home: $2 Million-Under $3 Million; Best Non-Certified High-Performance Home: New or Renovated; Best New Custom Kitchen: $200,000 and Over and Best New Bathroom. The finalists were announced March 9 at an event at Vancouver’s Hollywood Theatre.

Published: Vancouver Sun, March 10, 2023
Story by Shawn Conner

Each year, Homebuilders Association Vancouver recognizes the best in construction, renovation and design projects. This year’s finalists for the 14th annual HAVAN Awards for Housing Excellence were announced on March 9 at the Hollywood Theatre. A total of 101 builders and designers are vying for wins in 54 categories.

Winners of the HAVAN Awards for Housing Excellence will be announced at the gala on April 22 at the JW Marriot Parq Hotel, Vancouver.

Much of the work up for a trophy “reflects what took place at the height of the building and renovation frenzy after the first few months of the pandemic, as people were getting into their homes and starting to look inward,” said HAVAN CEO Ron Rapp.

This year’s awards find the building and construction industries “at a bit of a crossroads,” Rapp said.

Along with pandemic-related pipeline disruptions, the industry confronts labour shortages, a market slowdown, and pushes towards cleaner builds and densification.

Rapp says that the industry’s resources are being stretched to their limit.

“Everybody is stressed in terms of trying to meet their commitments with the resources that they have,” he said.

Rapp added that the unemployment rate in the construction industry “is probably somewhere less than four per cent, which effectively means it’s full employment. Everyone is looking to augment those labour resources and to build on what they bought as well as buttressing against the future.

“What we’re going to see as we move forward is some significant reductions in available resources through retirement. A lot of the folks who have been in this industry for a while are now starting to withdraw. We have to do whatever is necessary to fill that pipeline.”

Homebuilders Association Vancouver has maintained its membership level despite significant fall-off due to retirement or challenges encountered through the first years of the pandemic.

“We’re still seeing a significant influx of new members,” said Rapp. “Typically, they fall into the category of small builder, that is to say, less than 49 units per annum. But a few have joined the organization who are doing significantly more.”

This year, he said, “a significant number” of new names appear on the finalists’ list, along with the perennials.

“That’s really refreshing because it keeps things moving and makes room for new ideas and new players.”

Many local builders have already begun following the Energy Step Code requirements, a series of steps to increase energy performance and lower the carbon footprint of new homes, intending to build to net zero by 2032. Adoption has been voluntary up to now, but, beginning in May, the code becomes official.

The new regulations will “significantly influence the way that construction proceeds,” Rapp said.

HAVAN has taken note of the trend in now-established categories like Best Environmental Initiative. A new category this year is Best Infill Development. It recognizes the move towards “gentle densification,” such as infill housing that increases the number of units on a single-family lot.

“It’s something that we’re going to be seeing a lot more of,” Rapp said.

But most categories, like Best Kitchen Renovation under $100,000, Best Custom Home: Under $1 Million, and Multi-Family Home Builder of the Year, will be familiar to HAVAN watchers.

“We’re very proud to be hosting the 14th iteration of the HAVAN Awards,” Rapp said. “Everybody who is involved in the finals announcements is to be congratulated. We’re looking to provide a showcase for them to present their best work. And this covers everything. It’s not just the super high-end. It is production homes, it is custom homes, it is first-time home opportunities, it is renovations — particularly those stemming from the pandemic, when people looked at their homes and thought, rather than moving, we’re going to make adjustments and accommodate those lifestyle changes and requirements.”