As Durango home builders are preparing for their annual showcase, home construction is making a comeback in the area.
The Durango Area Parade of Homes is set for Friday through Sunday, showcasing 22 homes from Bayfield to the mountains north of Durango.
Meanwhile, home building has surged in La Plata County. The county issued 93 permits to build single-family homes through August, up from 79 for the same period a year ago.
The jump in demand has come after a long fallow period for builders, leaving them scrambling for workers in some cases.
“We’re doing really, really well this year,” said Jerry Pope, president of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado.
In recent years, “Most all of us were doing remodels, getting barely enough work to keep the lights on,” he said. “This year, we were caught a little bit unaware that it was going to be this strong.”
Butch Knowlton, director of the county Building Department, said he has seen more applications for permits to build and continued interest in home remodels.
“It seems there’s some renewed interest in building some new homes,” he said.
Pope, co-owner of Timberline Construction, said it “helps everyone’s psyche to be busy.” Pope said he’s working on three separate seven-unit projects.
Nationally, single-family housing starts rose 7 percent in August, according to a report released last week from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau,
“We haven’t been building anything for four to five years,” Pope said. “Eventually you’re going to get rid of inventory and you’re going to get into more of a seller’s market.”
Pope is hopeful that the Durango construction industry has reached a new period of sustainable growth.
“I see three to five years of nice, even-keel growth,” he said. “I don’t want to see us go overboard like we did before and get into that position.”
The Parade of Homes, now in its 10th year, allows the public to tour some of Durango’s most luxurious homes. One in Glacier Club spans 4,465 square feet and stands on 1.7 acres. Others are smaller but have their own unique features: An energy-efficent home at 1845 West Second Ave. is 2,188 square feet but has reclaimed wood features and a solar hot-water system.
“The Parade isn’t just about high-end homes, though that’s always fun,” Janet Enge, executive officer of the Home Builders Association, said in a news release Tuesday. “The builders are showing design and furnishing trends, as well as new energy efficiencies in a wide range of prices. Even if you aren’t interested in building a new home, there are always new ideas to incorporate into your existing home.”
The event showcases the work of not only home builders but subcontractors who install tile, cabinets, roofing and heating and cooling units, Pope said.
“It’s amazing how many people are involved in building one home,” he said.