New residential construction in Connecticut was the strongest in four years in 2012, with the most robust building activity reported in Fairfield County, a new report today shows.
Permits issued by all towns and cities last year for single-family houses, condominiums and apartment units soared 47 percent, to 4,669, from a decades-low of 3,173 in 2011, according to the annual survey by the U.S. Census released by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
See what building took place last year in your town or city here.
“We’re making slow, but positive momentum in the labor markets, and the same can be said for housing,” Donald L. Klepper-Smith, an economist at DataCore Partners in New Haven, told me today.
Klepper-Smith said the jump in residential construction last year was encouraging. But he noted new home building was extremely weak in 2011, and it may take years to reach the 8,000 to 10,000 new units a year that is considered to be a healthy home construction market.
“We still have a ways to go,” Klepper-Smith said.
Single-family houses continued to represent the largest number of new units built last year statewide, at 2,534. Dwellings of 5 or more units weren’t far behind, however, at 1,992, the report shows.
Fairfield County issued nearly half of the permits reported statewide, at 2,138, with the largest portion, 67 percent, for dwellings with 5 or more units.
See a county-by-county breakdown here.
Klepper-Smith said he wasn’t surprised by the strength of apartment construction, given the slow pace of job growth. Workers are unwilling to make the big house purchase are fueling demand for apartments where the financial commitment is far more modest.
“The traditional home with the 2.5 children, a dog and a white picket fence — people are saying they don’t need the expense of that right now,” Klepper-Smith said.
In Greater Hartford alone, there are more than a dozen apartment projects on the drawing boards, each at various stages of construction, financing and zoning approvals.
While there is demand for single-family homes, developers face a lack of land that is easily developed and tough zoning regulations.
Hartford County had the next highest volume of activity with 838 units, the largest portion, 563, being single-family houses. Dwellings with 5 or more units accounted for 265 of the authorized units in the county.
The net gain in new housing statewide was far less than the 4,669 units approved for permits because towns and cities authorized 955 demolitions, the largest number — 386 — in Fairfield County.
The report is notable because it provides a once-a-year snapshot of residential building in all the state’s municipalities. The monthly reports covers a smaller sample of 128 towns and cities, but they have been a good gauge of building activity statewide.
The smaller sample indicated a 46-percent gain in residential construction.