Quail Homes: Finding the right fit for empty nesters

Quail Homes owner Jon Girod says an aging workforce is a real concern within construction industry

Quail Homes

With housing costs above the national average in Vancouver, more and more people are considering buying homes rather than renting in hopes that their investment will pay off in the long term. One builder working to meet the demand is Jon Girod, owner of Quail Homes. Founded in 1989, Quail Homes is one of the oldest residential builders in the Vancouver area.

Girod estimates that 70 percent of Quail Homes’ clients are empty nesters who hope to buy homes that will fit their needs now as well as while they age. Naturally, most of these clients are looking for single-level homes made of durable products that are easy and affordable to maintain, but these future homeowners have other concerns about long-term affordability and environmental impact as well.

According to Girod, his clients also expect sustainable and energy-efficient housing, so Quail Homes’ combination of sustainable building practices and cost-cutting measures is crucial to his company’s long-term success.

“Our project concepts of green building and energy efficiency, durable products and really working for the benefit of the client,” not to mention being “budget hawks,” means that Quail Homes frequently has a full schedule, Girod explained.

Currently, his 10 employees are working on 15 different projects around the Vancouver area, even as the cost of building and buying homes is on the rise. In fact, Girod estimates that due to increased demand, as more people move to the area, costs are up 10 percent this year for materials, labor and land.

Quail Homes’ commitment to keeping clients’ costs under control certainly helps to offset the burden of rising costs, but the increase is still causing budget strains, the owner said.

Additionally, Girod noted, construction and other trade-based industries are still feeling the effects of the Great Recession.

The construction industry lost nearly 2 million jobs to the recession, and while those jobs are finally starting to come back, many of the workers who changed industries are gone for good – finding other work or retiring in the eight years since the recession began. Simultaneously, Girod points to an emphasis on college prep in high school, rather than offering vocational training to students who may not be college-bound.

“That kind of training has been taken out of our school systems,” he said. “Everything’s college prep. It’s not hip to be in the trades anymore.”

These factors create pressure on companies like Quail Homes to compete for employees in a market where there is simply a lack of skilled labor.

Fortunately, Girod said, Quail Homes has been able to consistently retain quality employees.

However, with many of the workers who managed to stay in the industry during the recession preparing for retirement, Girod is worried about what might be in store for Quail Homes in the future.

“I have a very stable workforce where I’m at,” he said. “I’m more concerned about three to five years down the road. As people start retiring, then what?”

That looming challenge has Girod already thinking about how to attract younger talent, but with so few qualified applicants out there, unless trends change soon, Quail Homes might be facing a worker shortage no matter what the company does.

Despite the industry challenges, it’s a good time to be a homeowner, Girod said, pointing out that homes are still a strong investment. And with the cost of housing rising annually, those who already own or buy now are setting themselves up to maintain affordable housing into the future.

Quail Homes
4501 N.E. Minnehaha St. #200 Vancouver Founded 1989 Ten employees