Labor shortages are a growing problem nationwide and industrywide. No industry seems to be exempt either, so the residential building industry is experiencing labor shortages. Add in supply chain issues for two of the biggest challenges facing the residential construction industry today.
To break it down, the shortage of skilled trade workers is a growing problem for the U.S. economy because of the importance the housing industry has on the economy. Housing prices can have an impact on home buying, which in turn affects economic growth. Without skilled tradespeople to build and remodel houses, home availability and home sales decline. It causes a domino effect.
Part of the labor shortage is that children and parents are not aware skilled tradespeople can have successful careers. Many people believe that a traditional college education is the only path to a prosperous future.
To break it down further, while women make up 47 percent of the population, only nine percent of workers in the construction industry are women.
A group of women in building, who are members of the Utah Chapter of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Professional Women in Building, set out to change the labor shortage of women in skilled trades and building with a residential building project coined The House That She Built.
The House That She Built – The Project
The House That She Built is a home building project the Utah Chapter of the NAHB Professional Women in Building members worked on from design to sale. The goal for this home was to highlight and utilize women building professionals, skilled tradeswomen, and women-owned businesses for all stages of the residential building project.
And this group of women did just that. Every professional, tradesperson, or business owner who worked on The House That She Built project was a woman.
The shortage of skilled trade workers is a growing problem for the U.S. economy because of the importance the housing industry has on the economy. Without skilled tradespeople to build and remodel houses, home availability and home sales decline.
The House That She Built – The Women
Twenty-eight women brought together their talents and abilities to collaborate on The House That She Built project.
The all-woman design team included a skilled draftswoman, designers, and engineers. The home design focuses on the needs of a family. The home has a children’s play area, a serene master retreat, and areas for the family to gather and create memories together.
The home is in the Wander community of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and was part of the 2021 Utah Valley Parade of Homes. A family recently purchased the finished house with plans to make it their home.
Not only did the women involved in the home building project want to highlight and promote professional and skilled trades in construction, but they also wanted to make a difference in the industry and the local community.
Sixty percent of the sale proceeds are for scholarships for women to pursue construction management-related degrees or to attend trade school programs. Twenty percent of the profit is funding education opportunities and future Utah Professional Women in Building events. In addition, a 20 percent donation went to a local women-centric charity.
The House That She Built – The Children’s Book
When author Mollie Elkman heard about The House That She Built project, she knew she wanted to write a children’s book about it. Mollie knew she could use the book to inspire the next generation of residential construction skilled workers and business owners.
Mollie enlisted the help of woman illustrator Georgia Castellano and woman publisher Patricia Potts of NAHB BuilderBooks to turn the book idea into a reality.
The children’s book The House That She Built was born and printed. The book educates young readers about 18 different skilled jobs required to build a home. One by one, the book introduces the draftswoman, framer, roofer, and many other professionals and skilled tradeswomen as they collaborate and contribute to building a home.
The illustrations and the storyline connect and build upon the skills of each character to inspire kids to assess their interests to see if it aligns with the building industry.
The House That She Built children’s book:
- Cultivates curiosity about skilled trade careers through discussion at the age when self-esteem and identity are forming in children
- Educates children, parents, and educators about careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) and construction
- Embraces the opportunity to value diversity and inclusion in the workforce
- Works to help underrepresented groups discover the high-demand careers of the housing industry
- Can complement classroom activities to build awareness around skilled trades
Alicia Huey, a Birmingham, Alabama-based custom home builder and developer with more than 30 years of experience in the home building industry, is NAHB’s 2021 Second Vice Chairman of the Board. She is president of AGH Homes, Inc., a custom home building company she founded in 2000. Contact NAHB at 800.368.5242 or visit nahb.org.