Home builders may be the last bastion of free enterprise in America. Despite our beefing about regulations, the barriers to get to be a home builder are low indeed. Not withstanding what seem like onerous codes, if we use professionals and do reasonable work then “code compliant” is a cake walk. We get to take our measure of risks and earn proportionate rewards. I love being a builder. I am free to work as hard as I want, reshape the communities we live in, and provide for the families of those on my extended team. With this joy comes responsibility to care for our industry.
From our NAHB Association territory in Northern New Jersey, the economy may surge and wane, the rewards of our choices may vaporize or pile on, and our own demographics will be beyond our collective control. But despite the massive forces in play affecting our industry, we still have 100% control of our own outcomes. We can scale, redeploy assets, add creativity and build new alliances.
Woodrow Wilson had it right 100 years ago: “I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty” . He was a leader, an academic, and builder of a century of legacy. What will your legacy to your industry be in 5 years, or 25 or 100? Can your impact be felt next door or in the next decades?
The platform for change is our unity and association. The complex fabric of our work is ripe for dramatic change. As Uber has changed transportation, as Amazon has upset retail buying, and there lies ahead forecasts that 47% of all jobs today will be lost to automation, we need to usher in new solutions for housing opportunity.
My guess is the first to fall will have to be regulatory barriers of the dinosaur planners still fighting “sprawl” of 35 years ago. They, too, will pass one day and the horizon and planning initiatives need to be turned on their head to reflect market demands.
We have the right to work on these issues. We have the responsibility to house our citizens. We have the honor to be builders. I take all three of these attributes seriously. No tasks can be left unattended. Metro members need your big thinking and detailed planning. We have plenty of room for your input and leadership. Our future and freedom as builders depends upon it.
Philip A. Calinda, Jr.