Alicia Huey, a Birmingham, Ala.-based custom home builder and developer, became the 2023 Chairman of the Board for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas. She is the third woman to lead the association since it was founded in 1942.
A 30-year veteran of the industry, Huey is founder and president of AGH Homes, which specializes in high-end custom homes for buyers on individual lots. Throughout her career, she has been active in NAHB leadership at the local, state, and national levels. She has served on the NAHB Board of Directors for more than 15 years and was chair of Professional Women in Building Council (PWB). In 2008, she was named NAHB’s PWB Woman of the Year.
At the local level, Huey served president of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders in 2013, was named the association’s Builder of the Year in 2012, and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2008; she also was named Builder of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Alabama in 2014. Her work with her local Habitat for Humanity chapter earned her that organization’s 2011 Volunteer of the Year and she served as chair of Habitat’s Greater Birmingham chapter from 2012 to 2014.
Pro Builder sat down with Ms. Huey at IBS to gain insight into her plans and goals as NAHB’s chairman in 2023, a role she’ll serve until February 29, 2024.
PRO BUILDER: How did you get into home building?
Alicia Huey: I was working with my husband in the title insurance business, so I was around home building and the association that way. I had an opportunity to volunteer at a Habitat for Humanity work day, and I came home and told my husband I wanted to change careers and become a home builder. He told me to go for it and has been my biggest cheerleader ever since.
PB: What do you see as your role for NAHB and its members?
AH: To start with, I would say I’m the spokesperson for the industry, whether it’s testifying before Congress or recognizing award-winning members or talking to the media; I’m the face of the fight for housing. It drives me crazy when I hear people refer to NAHB as a special interest group because we fight for the American Dream of homeownership, which is in everyone’s interest, not a special interest.
- Introducing Modular Construction to a New Labor Force
- Building Talent Foundation’s Plan to Build and Retain a Talented Workforce
- Attracting Talent in Today’s Skilled Labor Market: 84 Lumber's Maggie Hardy Knox
PB: What are your goals for NAHB in the coming year?
AH: I want to engage our local leadership to make sure they understand what NAHB stands for and what we do every day on behalf of all members.
There are some members, even leaders at the local level, who don’t know our CEO [Jerry Howard] or chief lobbyist [Jim Tobin] by name or what they do, but I also have to remember what it was like to be a local leader and how far away it feels sometimes from what’s happening at the national level.
I also know that some local associations are suffering financially after the pandemic, or are dealing with code issues that make it difficult to build affordable homes, and I want them to know that NAHB is here to support them with its resources and tools.
PB: How will you engage them?
AH: We’ve asked local executive officers to invite their incoming 2023 leadership to join us at the National Housing Center, in Washington, D.C., for two days in late March for an orientation to NAHB and to meet our leadership and staff and learn what the association can do for them.
We’ll also have something for and with them at our Spring Leadership and Legislative Conference meetings [in June, also in D.C.], at the fall board of directors meetings in Palm Springs in September, and hope to have another one at the winter board meeting in December in D.C. We also hope to attract some younger local leaders with aspirations to lead at this level.
PB: How do you see the home building industry navigating the current political situation at the federal level?
AH: We intend to work with the Biden administration and new Congress to enact policies that lower the cost of building and allow home builders to increase housing production. We’ll also work with policymakers to ease regulations and building material supply chain bottlenecks that hinder housing affordability.
PB: How do you see the industry progressing in terms of productivity to keep up or make up the housing supply gap and refill the skilled labor pool?
AH: Y'know, I think it’s going to take a long time because we as a society still have that mentality that a four-year degree is the only way to go. As the grandparent of a high schooler planning his future, even I struggle with that. But I’ve travelled to see what HBI [Home Builders Institute] is doing around the country to bring more young people into our industry, and it’s just unbelievable.
PB: For you, what’s the best part about building homes?
AH: To see how excited the homeowners are about their house, even years later. I recently bumped into a woman who bought one of our spec homes about five years ago and she told me, "We still just love our house," which is fun to hear.
Check out Ms. Huey’s regular “Chairman’s Message” on probuider.com and in every issue of Pro Builder this year for insights into advocacy and other issues affecting NAHB members and the industry at large.
Women in Construction
Professional Women in Building Council Honors Female Leaders
These female trailblazers and leading councils were honored by NAHB's Professional Women in Building Council at the 2023 International Builders' Show
Here Are the Winners of the 2023 NAHB Student Competition
The National Association of Home Builders' annual Student Competition showcased young talent from across the country at the 2023 International Builders' Show
New Legislation Worsens Housing Affordability
NAHB Policy Briefing: Effects of newer energy codes on housing affordability; NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index shows housing affordability declining