TWIN FALLS — Twin Falls building permits dropped 30 percent in August from a year ago, but that’s no indicator of an economic slowdown.
For the year to date, the city has issued roughly the same number of permits it had by this time last year — 2,995. And some builders say activity will remain strong as companies prepare to announce more commercial projects.
“Probably next spring is going to be extremely busy,” said Andrew DiPietro, project manager for Petersen Brothers Construction.
His company is bidding on close to a dozen commercial projects in the Magic Valley and is vying for pre-construction on several more. There is also a large mix of projects that are still being designed, he said. The behind-the-scenes work now paves the way for projects that will begin construction in the next six months — hotels, retail buildings, gas stations, restaurants and agricultural and industrial projects.
“Things are very busy with commercial construction,” DiPietro said.
Francis Florence, who owns Milestone Builders and Developers and partners with Boise-based HC Co., does not expect any especially large projects to come up in September.
“There is still a backlog of available labor to complete projects,” he said. “We need more people to do the work.”
In August, only one new commercial permit and six commercial additions and remodels were approved through the city’s building department — down more than 60 percent from a year ago. But for the year-to-date, new commercial building permits are actually up 15 percent.
The valuation of those projects is down 46.7 percent for the fiscal year-to-date, at $27.2 million.
Commercial permits of note in August included a $400,000 remodel of the former Addison West Restaurant, now owned by United Oil. The building will be a retail store associated with the adjacent gas station. The city also received a permit for a $350,000 project at the city pool, including a new pool dome.
The city approved 18 permits for single-family dwellings last month, also low compared with that time over the past couple of years. Home-building permit numbers have been relatively flat since January, with the exception of March, when the city issued 39 permits.
However, building official Jarrod Bordi said the city issued 236 single-family home permits in the past fiscal year — the most it’s issued since 2007. And for the 2017 fiscal year, which began in October, the city has issued 211 permits for homes. Bordi expects to come close to the previous fiscal year’s number.
“In my opinion,” he said, “any year we issue more than 200 new SFD (single-family dwelling permits) is an indicator of a strong housing market.”