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New construction permits show a leveling off of activity this year

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Single-family permit volume is down for the year, multifamily permit activity is up, and commercial and industrial construction in San Diego County are holding their own.

A Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB) report says permits were pulled for 995 single-family units in April, or 4.51 percent less than the 1,042 in April 2004.

The research firm counted 2,965 single-family permits for the first four months of 2004, or 13.9 percent less than the 3,444 during the like period a year earlier.

"Single-family is down for the year in San Diego County, but single-family is down everywhere in the state," said Ben Bartolotto, CIRB research director.

In terms of dollar volume, permits were pulled for $259.6 million worth of single-family homes in April, or 3.04 percent less than the $267.8 million in April 2004.

A total of $785.83 million in single-family permits were pulled for the January-April period this year, down 12.5 percent from the $898.4 million during the first four months of 2004.

The CIRB tallied 251 multifamily permits for April. While this is but a fraction of the 876 such permits pulled during April 2004, the year-to-date figures tell a different story.

The CIRB counted 3,099 multifamily permits through April, or 6.67 percent more than the 2,905 during the comparable period in 2004. While the research firm doesn't ascertain which of these are condominiums versus apartments, other reports have shown condominiums are becoming an increasingly larger share of the total.

With condominium developers bidding up the price of the land, apartment builders are frequently outflanked. What's more, these days, a few apartments have been converted to condominiums before they have been completed.

"We see a lot of condos in the mix, but it's hard to know which of these are condos and which are apartments," Bartolotto said.

The multifamily dollar volume was $28.4 million in April, which again, was a mere fraction of April 2004's $105.2 million.

However, year-to-date multifamily dollar volume, as in the case of the permit totals, is running ahead of last year. The CIRB counted $383.6 million worth of multifamily projects through April, or 8.04 percent more than the $355.1 million through April 2004.

Residential additions and alterations amounted to $36.4 million in April, a 4.21 percent gain from $34.9 million in April 2004.

The CIRB counted $132.1 million in residential alterations and additions in the January-April period, or 7.7 percent more than the $122.7 million through the first four months of last year.

New commercial construction, which includes both office and retail development, performed better month-to-month and year-to-date in 2005.

Permits were pulled for $93.5 million worth of commercial development in April, or 38.5 percent more than the $67.5 million in April 2004.

A total of $158 million worth of commercial permits were pulled through March in San Diego County for the first four months of 2005. That figure was fractionally more than the $153.2 million through the like period last year.

The CIRB counted $22.8 million in industrial volume, or 49.5 percent more than the $15.2 million in April 2004.

A total of $46.4 million worth of industrial permits were pulled for the January-April period this year, despite the fact that there were no industrial permits pulled at all in March.

Rains might have been a factor here, but Bartolotto said that this was probably an anomaly. He added that a lot has to do with how a building is categorized, for example, a "flex" building may fit into the commercial or the industrial category.

Still, the 2005 figure was marginally ahead of the $43.3 million in permits issued the first four months of 2004.

In the category of "other," which includes everything from outbuildings to minor roads, permits were pulled for $21 million worth of work in April, or nearly the same as the $20.9 million in April 2004.

Activity was more brisk in the "other" for the year-to-date figures. Permits were pulled for $77.3 million in this category through April, or 22.4 percent more than the $63.1 million figure through April of last year.

Nonresidential additions and alterations amounted to $51.1 million in April, a 12.6 percent drop from the $58.5 million in April 2004.

The CIRB tallied $139.5 million in nonresidential alterations and additions for the year through April, or 12.8 percent less than the $160 million through April 2004.

The total value of permits pulled for April 2005 was 10 percent less than the $569.9 million in April 2004.

The CIRB tallied a total of $1.72 billion worth of construction permits for the January-April period here, or 3.91 percent less than the $1.79 billion through April 2004.

Related Articles:

Construction spending nationally at record level (Jun. 1, 2005)

Housing starts take unexpected rebound in April after March drop (May 18, 2005)

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