After slow start to year, number of Routt County building permits picks up dramatically

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— Building permits for new construction were issued at a snail’s pace for the first six months of 2012, but the pace has picked up dramatically in July and the first half of August. However, the uptick in activity may not reflect growth in the local construction industry as much as it represents a typical seasonal pattern.

The Routt County Regional Building Department, which oversees building permits and inspections for Steamboat Springs and all of Routt County, with the exception of the town of Hayden, issued a total of 14 permits for single-family homes through the first six months of the year. Of those, six were within the city limits of Steamboat.

But in the six weeks from July 1 through Aug. 10, the building department issued another 11 single-family home permits, including six within Steamboat. Two duplex permits were issued in July after none had been issued through June.

Dana Seidenberg, a permit technician for the building department, said the increased activity in July and August is typical. Contractors and property owners often spend the spring months finalizing construction plans and waiting for the weather to turn, she said. A permit issued in summer can allow work to begin before the snow starts to fly in late fall.

“It’s better; it’s just still not great,” Seidenberg said.

Regardless, the six-month report issued by the building department last week is a sobering reminder that the pace of construction within Routt County remains at a 10-year low.

One particularly telling statistic is the number of daily inspections conducted by the building department. Inspectors were averaging about eight inspections a day throughout June in Steamboat, down from a high of nearly 36 a day in the first six months of 2005 and 2006.

The construction valuation of all Steamboat Springs projects submitted to the building department — new construction as well as alterations and additions — was $33.5 million through June. The Casey’s Pond senior living community project is responsible for $21 million of that total.

Thirty permits were issued from January through June for residential alterations and additions in Steamboat, a number that’s slightly off the pace of the previous two years (34 in 2011 and 33 in 2010). However, the 30 permits issued for commercial property alterations and additions is the lowest in the first half of a year since 2007, when there were 21.

The story is much the same outside of Steamboat Springs city limits. There were no permits issued in the county through June for duplexes, multifamily dwellings or commercial/industrial projects. The total valuation of all Routt County building permits issued in the first half of 2012 was $12.5 million — $8.7 million for new construction projects and $3.8 million for alterations and additions.

To reach Brent Boyer, call 970-871-4221 or email bboyer@SteamboatToday.com

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