Housing starts in PTC tumble 50% in 1 year

Tue, 12/30/2008 - 4:59pm
By: John Munford

Housing starts in PTC tumble 50% in 1 year

New housing starts in Peachtree City — Fayette County’s largest city — have tumbled 50 percent in one year, according to figures from the city.

The building slowdown in Peachtree City has given the city an opportunity to buttress its code enforcement department and address a backlog of incomplete permits, said Building Official Tom Carty.

Peachtree City has been adapting the past few years as it nears build-out, which is borne out by the numbers for last year. The city has signed off on seven single family residential building permits from September through November, compared with five for the same three-month period last year.

So far this calendar year, the city has issued 36 single family residential building permits, compared with 73 for the same time frame in 2007.

While the city has one vacant code enforcement position, one of its residential building inspectors has taken over many code enforcement duties and is also handling all tree inspection permits, Carty said.

In recent months, another building employee has transferred to the city’s stormwater department. That leaves the building department with a plans examiner, who also does commercial inspections, two residential building inspectors and Carty himself.

Despite the slowdown in residential construction, Peachtree City does have some residential homes being built, Carty said. And other inspections are needed for home improvements such as fences, sheds, pools and heating unit replacements among others, he noted.

Even those numbers are down, but there’s still more than enough work to keep inspectors busy, Carty said. Carty has also tasked his staff with mowing through open files on permits that haven’t been closed out, as they typically date back a year.

In most of those cases, the inspectors are following up with homeowners on projects in which the resident hasn’t called back for a final inspection, Carty said.

In addition to the vacancies, Carty said another building department employee is projected to retire soon and he plans on leaving that position vacant until he nears retirement so the city can hire someone he could train as his replacement.

As Peachtree City’s building boom began to taper off a few years ago, Carty dialed back and left one of his inspector positions go unfilled. He said that was not at the behest of any city official but just an action he felt was necessary at the time.

The building department has also cut its uniform budget as Carty said they will now “wear out” uniforms, coats and the like.

“We’ll look a little seedy but we won’t look that bad,” said Carty, noting the city has always kept up well with uniform needs of building employees.

Now the department is scaling back to replacing uniform items only when they are worn out, Carty said.

Carty, who serves this year as the president of the Building Officials Association of Georgia, said much larger building departments in the state are having to go through layoffs because their business has dried up so much in recent months. Carty hopes that won’t happen in Peachtree City too, but he realizes the budget decisions are left up to the City Council.

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Steve Brown's picture
Submitted by Steve Brown on Sun, 01/04/2009 - 11:26pm.

The real concern is the additional housing capacity added via annexation and rezoning. That number is substantial and it will strike us hard in the future when building warms back up.

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