Steamboat Springs It's early in the building permit season, but new construction in Routt County appears to be trending with the national economy - downward.
Area building permit officials confirmed that through Thursday, they have received applications for just three single-family building permits in all of Routt County.
That compares to 14 by March 20, 2008, 13 in 2007 and 30 by the third week in March 2006. Routt County saw 250 single-family housing starts throughout 1999.
"It certainly is a slower start this year than in the past, but it's early," Routt County Regional Building Department Official Carl Dunham said. "There are some bright lights out there."
Dunham said most of the applications that have come to his department in 2009 are for building remodels and additions. The regional building department includes permits being sought in Steamboat Springs, rural Routt County and the town of Oak Creek. All three of the single-family applications thus far are in the county.
Charlie Davis, of the Hayden Building Department, said he has yet to receive an application for a single-family home or commercial building in 2009.
Tom Fox, of Fox Construction, said his crews have two large projects to look forward to this season. They include a log home to be built on a large ranch in far western Routt County and a major addition to a house located between Steamboat and Milner. The addition to an existing home that recently sold will more than triple its size, he added.
"We're not going to get rich, but we're going to survive," Fox said.
Dunham said the developers of the Barn Village at Steamboat subdivision are planning to build an amenity building with a permit valued at almost $1 million this year.
Developer Bob Comes confirmed he is in final negotiations with a contractor and hopes to break ground within 30 days. He added that he expects the buyers of several lots in the subdivision off Pine Grove Road to begin construction on new homes this summer.
The regional building department also has received three requests from builders seeking estimates of permit fees based on plans for $1 million-plus homes they are poised to execute.
Dunham added that he talked Thursday with a builder who is planning to construct four homes this year representing a niche market in Steamboat, plus more in other states.
Dunham would not comment on the nature of the niche.
Based on conversations with building contractors, Dunham said, he's aware that they are now involved in competitive bidding for contracts.
Fox confirmed that's something that hasn't happened in the local market in years, as busy builders have long been able to dictate terms to clients.
"Those days have gone by," Fox acknowledged.
Now, he said, clients are able to ask builders to bid on their profit margin or fee.
"Builders who might have been accustomed to 12 percent (fees or margins) are seeing bids come in at 6 percent."
Fox said looking beyond the recession to a turnaround, he's focused on keeping his key people employed. They are familiar with his construction documentation, know his systems and are proven talents who work hard, he said.
"We want to come out the backside of this and keep the people in place it took us 10, 20 and 25 years to find," Fox said.
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