April showers bring building flurry across Routt County, so to speak
May 16, 2010
Steamboat Springs — A spring flurry of building permits for single-family homes may not signal an enduring recovery of the Routt County building market, but it breaks a trend.
The Routt County Regional Building Department reported issuing three permits for new single-family homes in April with an aggregate permit value of about $2.8 million. Another permit for a $2 million home was issued during the first week in May.
Throughout the entire first quarter, the county had seen a total of just four permits for single-family homes. Those included two permits in January for a combined $1.7 million, another in January for $190,500 and one in March for $713,000.
Valuations assigned to new homes for purposes of issuing permits are lower than the eventual retail value.
The outlook for single-family homes being built this spring inside Steamboat Springs city limits is even quieter: Through April, just one permit for a single-family home had been issued, and it was an anomaly. The permit was issued after the fact for a very small, existing home in Fairview valued at just less than $75,000.
Of the four new permits in the county, one that stands out is for a 10,300-square-foot home (including a large covered deck) on 5 acres in Alpine Mountain Ranch, just south of the city.
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Fair and Square Construction is building the home for a couple from Virginia, Steve and Karen Speer.
Alpine Mountain Ranch and Club Chief Operating Officer Bill Reid said he thinks the renewal of some home building is a sign that prices in the mountain markets have stabilized and that people who have been planning on building realize that contractors and their subcontractors are eager to secure projects.
Steve Speer said this week that he had not planned on beginning construction this year but that the opportunity to engage contractors in a competitive environment prompted him to move forward ahead of schedule.
"I really wasn't going to pull the trigger this soon, but I've been around the area for 25 years and had friends who (in the past) got in line and waited a year or two for a contractor. I realized that I had an opportunity to bid this out and get two or three bids and be competitive."
Construction on the Speer home is under way this week with the garage framed and about to be dried in so the builders can use it as an office. Another new home nearby that isn't among the four new permits this spring is in the same stage of construction.
The Alpine Mountain Ranch developers are moving ahead with plans they first made public in late fall 2008 to build a market home that will be offered for sale.
The general contractor will be Corporex, the construction firm of one of the Alpine ranch principals, Bill Butler.
Brian Beck, who owns a local building framing company, has been retained as project manager, Reid said. A local firm, KSA Architecture, designed the home.
The six-bedroom, 6.5-bath home is due to be completed in mid 2011. It is listed for sale for $5.25 million.
Other homes on the horizon include a 7,100-square-foot house planned for a building site on Rolling Ridge Road by a Steamboat Springs couple. It is valued for building permit purposes at $934,000. In addition, a Minnesota couple is planning a $1.66 million home on Timberridge Drive in Big Valley Ranch.
The general contractor is Gary Cogswell, of Cogswell Construction, and the architect is Joe Patrick Robbins.
Cogswell said as soon as word got out that he had landed the contract, he was inundated with calls from people in the building trades seeking work. He added that the list of bidding subcontractors has been finalized and that he can't accept any more into the process.
"It's been a rough experience for me to dole out a very limited amount of work here," Cogswell said. "I feel very fortunate to have a job."
One of the factors affecting the local construction industry is the fact that people looking for homes in most price points often can find better values on a price-per-square-foot basis in existing homes for sale, some of them distressed.
Generally, one could not build a home today for the price one would pay for an existing home of comparable quality.
"We looked at a lot of the mountain communities for a long time and decided Steamboat is where we want to be," Speer said.
Even with competitive pricing, he said, "you can't pencil it out — building a new home doesn't make sense in some ways. But I'm here for the long haul. We don't have a timetable, but my wife and I want to retire here."
The Speers had their home designed by a Seattle firm, Miller Hull Partnership, in part because of a family relationship. But they consulted with Bill Rangitsch, of Steamboat Architectural Associates, and Speer said he wants to keep the employment created by his project in the valley.
"Pretty much everything is local — for me, personally, that was important," he said.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail email@example.com