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A Conversation With … Charlyce Ruth

Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield CEO

Posted online

The Home Builders Association, Missouri Career Center, Springfield Contractors Association, The Builders’ Association and several other unions and businesses hosted the second-annual Build My Future event on March 28. What made this year unique?
In the second year, we a little bit more than doubled the students we had. We more than doubled the amount of square footage of inside show space and quadrupled the outside show space. It’s something our industry here is really embracing.

How many students attended?
We had almost 1,900 sign up and had about 1,600 show up.

What’s the goal of the event?
We are struggling to find people who want to go into the trades. It’s really affecting the prices of projects. People are charging more because there is a limited supply of labor. It’s really affecting the completion dates. The thought is to engage students in high school, just to introduce them to the number of opportunities. This was an opportunity for them to get their hands dirty … and let them talk to people in the industry about wages, the lifestyle and the expectations.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, residential construction has remained fairly steady nationally during the last year. How is this data reflected locally?
It’s staying fairly flat. We are seeing some areas increase and some areas decrease, and it’s really a function of lot availability. During the downturn of the market, banks weren’t financing subdivisions, which made perfect sense, but now those lots are pretty well built out. There are some areas where we’re waiting for subdivisions to get ready, and that takes time.

What demographics are building houses more?
The national data I’ve been reading is that millennials are starting. I don’t know how that’s translating here in the Ozarks; we tend to be a little behind on trends. But the trend has started, and we’ll see how it plays out.

Why are millennials building more?
We tend to think of millennials as staying in the basement because they don’t want to move out, but I think that’s really a fallacy. A lot of millennials stayed home because their parents couldn’t afford their houses. Maybe one of them lost a job and, by the millennial staying in the household, they could contribute to the income, help their parents keep the house and get through that tough spot. We’re starting to see some of that get a little bit better.

Millennials don’t want a starter home. They want to start with what we’ve traditionally called a mover-upper home – something in the $200,000-$300,000 range. They’ve spent time saving money so they can have that down payment and they can have what they want.

How is residential construction changing?
How houses are being designed is different. How many homes do you walk into that are hardwired for phone lines? Everything is going wireless. There are trends I’ve seen on both coasts that are, “Where is the drone going to drop the package?” We hear so much in the news about Amazon packages being delivered and stolen. They want safe and secure and weather-safe areas for those packages. I don’t know if drones are going to do that, but anything is possible. It’s a lot of little things like that.

A lot of people don’t want just the dedicated theater room or dedicated craft room. They’re making rooms more multipurpose so they can get more use out of their homes.

We’re seeing more outdoor entertainment areas, incorporating the outside part of the house to make it larger.

Charlyce Ruth can be reached at


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