Houston sees spark in construction

1STOCK Economic News Pen graphicHOUSTON – The recent spell of warmer, sunny weather has prompted a number of local contractors to hammer, pour concrete and twist pipe.

While part of the increase can be seen as businesses back on the job after the holiday break, some of it may be an indication of homeowners beginning to plan and seek help for projects they put on hold over the past year or two.

The new home construction numbers are still slow in Houston with three permits filed at City Hall in September, three more in October and one in November. There were no permits issued in December.

City construction permits are typically purchased very early in the construction process, with home construction lasting up to six months.

But not all contractors obtain permits.

“Contractors know they are supposed to get a permit and it’s my job to enforce that ordinance,” said Ricko Nichols, Water and Street Department Supervisor. “It’s part of the cost of doing business.

Nichols also said a permit and site visit by the city can save a contractor and property owner problems down the road. He also pointed out the spring construction season is about to begin and homeowners need to realize they – not the contractor — are ultimately responsible for obeying city ordinances.

“If you build a structure on the right of way and we decide to widen that road, you can be forced to move it or tear it down,” said Nichols. “People can also put a building, driveway or even a carport on top of their sewer lines and water lines and that can create problems down the road.”

Nichols said permits are not needed for renovations to an existing structure or to put on a roof.

“You only need a permit on new construction that adds to the size or square-footage of your house,” said Nichols. “That does include patios, decks and fences. Any kind of out-building also needs a permit.”

Nichols said the city has a book of rules and regulations and he urged people to call and ask for a site visit.

“I know most of the big concerns and there are really way to many to list,” said Nichols. “If I show up we have a question, I can go back and look it up. Either way a little homework on the front end can save you money on the back end of the job.”

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