Residential contractors are saying they have more work than they’ve had in years, said Brian Evans, executive officer of the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County.
“Residential remodel is quite strong,” Evans said. “Homeowner confidence is up. People are back to believing that their house is a good place to invest money.”
David Brogan, President of Bellingham Bay Builders said his building cooperative stayed busy throughout the recession. Mostly, they did complicated remodels, which a lot of contractors don’t like to do, he said. But this summer they started doing more new construction.
“We noticed a pretty significant uptick in early 2014. But this summer things lit on fire,” he said. “We’re trying not to turn people away. We don’t want to miss out on good customers and good folks.”
In the last one and a half years, Bellingham Bay Builders hired five new people. Three of those were hired in the last six months, Brogan said.
Forest Chiavario, owner of Chuckanut Builders, said business for his company started to increase last fall. Most of their current work is major remodels.
“There has been a big shift in the market for sure,” Chiavario said. “It’s been about a year of consistent calls.”
According to data from the City of Bellingham, between January and August 2014, the city issued nearly $11.8 million worth of building permits for residential
During that same period in 2013, the city issued 9.3 million in permits for alterations, additions, and accessory buildings.
But an increase in projects is residential building isn’t the only factor. Since the recession began, Evans said a significant amount of contractors have gone out of business or stopped working.
Are the contractors left in the business the cream of the crop?
Evans warns that that’s a broad generalization, but is true in many cases, he said.