Early Permits Signal Quiet Building Season

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tom Ross writes for the Stemboat Pilot and Steamboat Homefinder:

It is still early in the 2010 construction season, but indications from the Routt County Regional Building Department could portend silence where once nail guns and circular saws punctuated the air over Steamboat Springs.

Through February, building department statistics show that building permits issued in Routt County through the second month of the year had a combined valuation of more than $4 million.

“From 2000 to 2010, permits issued in January and February accounted for 6.l55 percent of the total (annual) valuation,” Building Department Official Carl Dunham said. “If it turns out that we did 6.155 percent in January and February this year, it would project to $61 million for the year, and that would be off $15 million from the year before,” when Routt County building permits had a valuation of $76 million in 2009.

It should be noted that valuation for building permit purposes is not the same as the retail value of a building or remodeling job.
Dunham said that through the first two months of the year, his office has conducted 22 plan reviews that could turn into building projects. The average number for January and February combined is 35 plan reviews.

The largest job on the horizon is the third phase of terminal improvements at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden, Dunham said. Hopefully, he said, some local construction workers will find employment with the out-of-town contractor preparing to reconstruction Lincoln Avenue/U.S. Highway 40 in downtown Steamboat.

When January/February numbers for building permits in the city of Steamboat Springs are broken out, the figures are less encouraging.
Through the end of February, the valuation of permits issued was $1.7 million, and that didn’t include any permits for a single-family home. Half of the total could be attributed to four permits for alterations or additions to buildings other than homes with an aggregate permit valuation of $775,000.

Another $702,000 was attributable to two home remodels permitted in January. There was also a permit issued for a retaining wall with a valuation of just more than $100,000 in January. And that’s been it.
The Steamboat totals for the first two months of 2010 stand in stark contrast to 2008, when the number stood at $12.5 million. It was $6.8 million for the first two months of 2009.

However, Dunham said the 2008 number was influenced by permits for the above-ground construction of the condominium tower at One Steamboat Place, which had spent much of 2007 building a massive foundation.

Dean Vogelaar, president of the Steamboat branch of Mountain Valley Bank, agreed with Dunham.

“Based on how things have gone, it’s something we would have considered to be predictable,” Vogelaar said. “People in finance and construction are not terribly surprised. In 2008, there were projects on the books with commitments for financing already in place. In 2009, there were still projects that were already in place.”
Routt County outside of Steamboat Springs saw permits issued for three single-family homes with a combined valuation of $1.9 million in January and February.

Those figures do not reflect activity in the town of Hayden, which has its own building department.

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