Early permits signal quiet building season in Routt County


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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 (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 for reconstruction on Lincoln Avenue/U.S. Highway 40 in downtown Steamboat.

Specific to 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.


Doug Matthews 7 years ago

So.... 60% off from 2008, and 30% off from 2009. So far. Remember what the government is doing in reaction to these slowdowns in permit applications? The departments are raising fees commensurately so that they don't have to reduce the workforce of inspectors. This increases the expenses to the few people who are trying to build something, causing more obstructions to economic recovery. Many who work here in the building trades are having to tighten their belts, and many are having to move to find work. NO wonder we have Obama's "Jobless Recovery!" Why should the departments that oversee these building projects for the government be held apart from the economic consequences of a recession? This is one of the most ridiculous thing I have heard lately in our local government; that we will improve our local econnomy and business climate by increasing taxes (or fees, if you will) on those who are trying to actually do something positive. It is like some sick Monty Python skit. This could be carried to the absurd conclusion of having 20 people, who don't swing hammers, pull wire, or fit pipes, inspecting the county's single project every day to justify their salaries, with permit costs double the labor costs of the building project, just so nobody has to leave their cushy, parasitical government job. Cripes!


space 7 years ago

Increasing the fees by 57% has factored heavily in our family's decision to not build this spring. Nice work Routt County Building Dept./City Council! Way to slow down business! Jobs for locals? I think not.


space 7 years ago

Increasing the fees by 57% has factored heavily in our family's decision to not build this spring. Nice work Routt County Building Dept./City Council! Way to slow down business! Jobs for locals? I think not.


kathy foos 7 years ago

That is only the beginning of the unexpected costs that pop up when building a home,everything runs more than you have figured,Zorro,I had an estimite for concrete foundation that doubled when the time came because of the cost of the concrete at the time,its a scary danger filled project and if you arent sure you have plenty of money to get it all done right ,dont start.At least you know up front what their fees(Building Dept.)will be and believe me that they give lots of help to you when you need it in return.


housepoor 7 years ago

space, so what was the % increase of the total project that made you back out?


John Fielding 7 years ago

In fact, the building department has laid off many of the staff. The fee increases are partly because the economics of volume made doing business more efficient when there was lots of activity, partly because they used that volume to postpone ordinary cost adjustments, and partly to avoid going to a part time department and keeping people waiting for inspections and plan reviews, not to mention ready advice.

We have the friendliest and most helpful building department by far of the two dozen or so I've dealt with, and some were real stinkers, on a power trip and clearly obstructionist, while others were corrupt or incompetent. We are very fortunate to have skilled, dedicated and honest people serving our needs.

Several of us, including a client of mine, rushed our plans forward and got in before the increase deadline. Those permits would have been in this years numbers otherwise. Not a large change in the numbers, but a factor nonetheless.

Thank you, Routt County Building Department, hope business picks up soon.


Scott Wedel 7 years ago

From the Nov 17, 2009 article on the 58% fee increase: “We started 2009 with $2.33 million in our operating fund,” Dunham wrote in a memo to the City Council. “With projected revenue of $600,000 in 2009, our fund will diminish to $1.53 million at the end of the year. We are budgeting that our level of construction will be consistent from 2009 to 2010.”

So what now that first two months of 2010 has seen revenues down 33% from 2009? Note that decline of 33% in construction activity just about exactly balances out a 58% increase in fees. (ex. 10% fee on $100 is $10 while a 58% increase of 10% is 15% while 33% decline of $100 is $66 and 15% of that is $10). So 2010 revenues are mirroring 2009 revenues, not a 58% increase in 2009 revenues. Their reserve decreased by $800K in 2009 and flat 2010 revenues suggests a similar decrease in 2010 which would leave reserve at $700K.

Seems that pretty quickly they are going to have to stop spending their reserves because at this rate it won't exist.

Or does the building dept use the Mayan calendar and thus doesn't have to budget past 2012?


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