Home building appears to be rebounding in Vanderburgh County.
Yvette Dozier, a permit coordinator in the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Building Commission office, reports 212 new single-family home start permits were issued from January through August, an increase of 62 starts in the same period in 2011.
Bill Pedtke, executive director of the Southwestern Indiana Builders Association, said, "I would like to highlight that it has stopped getting worse and is getting better. That will be the engine that starts the local economy."
Pedtke said he believes Vanderburgh County is on pace to show a 25-percent increase this year over last year. He predicted new single-family home starts will reach 250 by the year's end. In good economic times, the starts average 500 to 600 a year.
The county's building streak was punched way down to only 212 new starts in 2010 and 215 last year.
Pedtke said he doesn't know of many other industries that could survive losing 66 percent of its workforce, like the home-building industry has experienced.
Many of the workers who lost their jobs diversified into other fields, including remodeling, car sales, window and roof sales and food service.
Homebuilding very quickly puts many people to work in construction, wholesale, retail and professional services — in jobs that aren't going to leave the area. Additionally, dozens of different companies are connected to the single project, said Bill Pedtke, executive director of the Southwestern Indiana Builders Association.
The home's ripple affect on the overall economy continues to grow for years as dollars are spent on upkeep and additions to the property and in developing other businesses around a new subdivision.
Sherri Rector, executive director of the Warrick County Area Plan Commission, reports only 85 new single-family home starts occurred in Warrick this January through August. The number was down 38 from the same period last year.
Brad Sterchi, an Evansville homebuilder, has so far built over 1,000 homes and developed 1200 lots in his 36-year career. He currently is putting up new homes in Wynnfield Subdivision, off North Green River and Kansas roads.
Sterchi said he has gone from building 80 to 90 homes a year to about 20, which he expects to end with this year.
He said he wants to downsize to have more time to enjoy his family.
"There are buyers out there, though they're not as plentiful as they were," Sterchi said. "I've seen it worse, like back in the early 1980s when interest rates were high (from 14 percent to 18.5 percent on average)."
Sterchi said the Tri-State has not experienced inflated prices or an overabundance of homes like U.S. coastal communities .
"What you see in the national news didn't happen here," he said.