Homebuilders have been huddling like everyone else through persistent wintry weather, and it shows in a construction slowdown.
That’s builder Steve Allen’s explanation of the 5.8 percent drop in single-family construction permits issued through February compared with the first two months of last year.
“It’s been so cold for so long,” said Allen, president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
Not even rebuilding in Moore, still recovering from the May 20 tornado last year, could make up for the drop in starts in the rest of the metro area.
Permits were up 122 percent in Moore, but down 11.1 percent in Oklahoma City, 35.7 percent in Midwest City, 25 percent in Edmond and 4.1 percent in Norman.
With 2014 still young, it bears noting that the year-to-date numbers are still small, so year-to-year comparisons can be stark.
Builders in Moore took out 91 permits through February, up from 41 the first two months of last year.
Through February, builders took out 505 permits in Oklahoma City, down from 568 the same period in 2013.
Builders took nine permits in Midwest City through February, down from 14 the first two months of last year; 81 in Edmond, down from 108 through February last year; and 70 in Norman, down from 73 for the same period in 2013.
Weather delays will be made up soon, said Allen, president and CEO of AllenStyle Homes and Allenton Custom Homes in Bethany.
Starts originally planned for the past couple of months should start hitting the permit books later this spring, he said.
Allen reads no more than the frigid winter into the statistics.
“Everybody’s extremely busy. It’s almost like a boom again (similar to) 2005-2006,” he said, with shortages of trade laborers, and home shopper traffic remains high.
Not a lot of lots
Of greater concern is the shortage of buildable lots. Land developers stopped developing in the trough of the recession — even here — and now demand is eating up supply faster than it can be replaced.
“We have about four to six months of lot inventory,” Allen said, noting that it takes a year to 18 months or more to get lots ready for construction once addition work begins.
“I’m afraid we’re going to have a gap coming in early winter, fall and into (next) spring,” he said.
It’s been so cold for so long.”
President of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association