Building permits drop 70% in 5 year period

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – In just 5 years new home construction has gone from boom to bust. The latest numbers for a UVA study show residential building permits have dropped by almost 70%.

Being a homebuilder right now is as tough as it gets.

"The Richmond area in the last 2 and a half years has lost 35,000 jobs," said Warren Wakeland with the Richmond Home Building Association. "16,000 of those jobs are in construction."

Wakeland says the economy, with the loss of several companies and high land prices have made it difficult for anyone to build a new home.

"The median home price right now in the Richmond area is about $195,000. The median new home price is about $240,000. A lot of builders who've seen their market go away are turning to re-modeling," said Wakeland.

LifeStyle Builders just completed its first re-model job. In the last two years. It's also expanded to the Petersburg area.

"We're building different floor plans. We're utilizing different materials," said Kevin McNulty with LifeStyle Builders.

The Petersburg area is the only part of the state that's seen an increase in building permits. Land is cheaper and 40,000 soldiers are expected at Fort Lee by the end of 2011. But not all contractors are as lucky as McNulty.

Dozens of people are now doing something completely different. In fact one HVAC installer is now raking in more money by raking in pet waste.

"People aren't building anymore. People are saving their money. They're not upgrading their units," said Shawn Ligon with Doody Calls.

After a forced career change, the grass is now greener for Shawn Ligon.

"You get to be outside. You get to play with animals. There's no crawling. You don't have to go in attics anymore," he said.

After 10 years of working in homes, he's doing something completely different. But once the housing market picks up, Shawn plans to tackle both and out.

The Richmond Home Building Association says new home construction will be slow for a while, but it should pick up in the next 24 months.

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