In 1986, Lloyd Hughes founded Park Ridge Homes with the vision of building single-family homes in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. He established the company with the motto “the symbol of quality.”
“Everybody says that they have quality or deliver it, but the symbol of quality is more than a tagline to us,” said Brad Hughes, Lloyd’s son, and the company’s General Manager. “It has been a major driving force for Park Ridge Homes in the products we build, the service we provide and the relationships with our suppliers and sub trades. We still have many of the same sub trades and suppliers from that first year of business — a testament to our working relationships and how we treat people. We also see many repeat clients as people upsize and downsize their housing requirements.”
Brad Hughes admits that being the son of a builder — and now a builder himself — isn’t always easy. “Being a home builder is a lifestyle and not a job. You have to thrive on multi-tasking, become the master of so many traits and skills to be a success — but that is also what keeps it exciting year after year. After coming out of University, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. Once or twice I have thought of other careers, but that only lasts for a second because my phone usually rings with something to attend to.”
Hughes on the HST
The HST is a contentious issue to many in B.C., and Hughes is no exception. “The HST will hurt the housing market (above the rebate thresholds) for a long time. I understand that this is now a transparent, user-pay tax, but it will reduce consumption for the new home market, retail sales, and dining out.
“For renovations, HST will drive the underground economy even deeper underground. We also feel there should not be any tax on the land component of the house sale. Prior to GST, there was not any taxation on lumber or land, the two biggest components of a house’s costs. Now, you have HST on both of these major items. Additionally, the indexation of the rebates must be adjusted on an annual basis to reflect the escalation of house prices.”
According to Hughes, the toughest challenges going ahead for any builder in the Lower Mainland will be access to land, access to financing, and ever-increasing legislation.
“The amount of capital it takes to build a home grows faster than the profit margin in homes. This will continue to the point where builders will have to pool their resources with others to get a decent margin,” said Hughes. “Yet, people always comment to me that that there has to be a market ‘correction.’ It is true that housing in the Lower Mainland is taking up more of families’ take home pay, but escalating housing prices will not change; people and lifestyles will change.
“For example, 15 years ago there were very few new homes with secondary suites in the Lower Mainland; there was strong opposition to allowing suites. Today, about 80 per cent of all new single-family homes in the Lower Mainland have suites. Why is that? Do you really think that it is the Canadian Dream to share one-third of your house with strangers? Of course not, but it corroborates the fact that people will adapt and change lifestyles as prices continue to rise.”
While in favour of reducing their short term and long term impact on the environment, Park Ridge is also opposed to plans that fail to really consider the end user and the associated costs of implementation.
“Too many politicians feel that the “developer” can pay for it, but these green iniatives do nothing more than raise the cost of housing,” said Hughes. “All cost in a home or project will be paid by tend purchaser. If our cost is lower, our house prices will be lower. If our cost is higher, then our prices will be higher. There is a certain amount of money required to make a living and keep your business running.
“In many communities, sustainability is driving the cost beyond affordability. The purchaser is never given a choice in these matters, and most of these decisions are forced upon the builder. In over 1,300 homes, we have never been asked by an owner to build ‘green.’ The conversation in more likely to be...’How much for granite?’ or ‘Can we have additional hardwood?’”
As long time members of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association (GVHBA), Park Ridge Homes understand the importance of giving back and connecting with the industry that supports them, and the communities in which they build their homes.
“Park Ridge Homes has been blessed for many years with great people to work with and wonderful clients to build for,” said Hughes. “We are grateful for our blessings and try to be generous with those less fortunate than us.”
Park Ridge sponsors one child with World Vision for each home that they build. The information is given to their clients after move in, with a request that they consider continuing on with the child for as long as they are in the home. The company is also very involved with two ministries, Nightshift, and the Warehouse, which serve the needs of the less fortunate in the community.
Famous Last Words
“One thing that we should have done over the last 20-plus years is to keep one home in each one of our developments and just rented it out and kept it,” said Hughes. “With the increase in land and housing cost in the lower mainland, we would have had a huge amount of capital behind us just from the appreciation of the assets.”