Life was good for those involved with the building sector in Estevan in 2013.
The RM of Estevan was the first to release its building permit report, and while the number of permits was down from 63 in 2012 to 53 in 2013, the overall permit value soared from $32.7 million to $35.8 million, thanks in large part to the construction of the PTI Group's Boundary Lodge in the RM's northeast corner.
Some might be disappointed with the decline in the quantity of permits, but it still dwarfs the numbers seen around 10 years ago. The volume and the value of permits is expected to remain high in the RM for several years.
It was a great year for the City of Estevan, too. The number of permits increased from 111 to 122, but the real story was the permit value more than doubled from $26.6 million to $58.79 million.
The 111 permits from 2012 was a also misleading figure. Thirty-five of them were garages, and 29 were classified as miscellaneous. Those two categories combined for 57 per cent of the permits.
In 2013, those two permit types combined for 46 permits, or about 38 per cent.
In the key categories – single-family residential, multi-family residential, commercial and industrial – the number of permits, and the overall permit value, were way up.
Numbers were also up in one other key area: total housing units. Between single-family homes, multi-family developments and secondary suites, 182 housing units received the green light, compared to 124 the year before.
These numbers might be enough to make one want to change career plans. Why go to university, spend four years on tuition, books and housing, and live and eat like a poor university student, when you can enter the construction industry, find a good job immediately, and receive a good wage? You might even one day start your own construction business.
(Note: the staff at Lifestyles fully encourages people to attend a post-secondary institution, and we hope that those who have their sights set on college, university or a trade school will pursue those dreams).
One of the big turning points for Estevan was council's decision to seek out private developers, rather than tackle the developments themselves. The City receives a significant injection in revenues when they sell a parcel of land to a developer.
Private developers have access to capital and resources that the City doesn't have, enabling subdivisions to be constructed in a more expedient fashion.
The ongoing work in the Dominion Heights subdivision, the expected start of new home construction in the next phase Trojan subdivision, and the arrival of houses at The Ridge modular home park in south Estevan should mean that housing starts will remain high locally in 2014. If the Meadows subdivision in northwest Estevan ever gets off the ground, we might be able to breathe a little easier about Estevan's housing shortage.
And it'd be more good news for those in Estevan's construction industry.