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Building slow down in La Veta

By Darrell Arnold

LA VETA- "The number of building projects in La Veta in 2008 is almost the same as it was in 2007," says La Veta Building Inspector Tom Lessar, "but the valuation of the work is less than half of what it was last year."

    According to Lessar, $29,450 worth of building permits were issued in ‘07, while only $12,937 worth have been issued so far in ‘08.

    "The difference this year," says Lessar, "is that most of the permits are for remodels rather than new construction, things like roofs, fences, minor upgrades."

    Lessar had been the building inspector in La Veta since 2006, and his jurisdiction is inside the La Veta Town limits.  He says, "I believe there were six new home permits issued in ‘06, and six in ‘07, but there have only been two in ‘08."

    It is Lessar′s belief the recent economic downturn has played a roll in the reduced building activity in La Veta, but he sees another factor in play, as well.

    "Except for the golf course [where lots are very expensive], there aren’t a whole lot of lots available for new construction.  They’re really not priced too high.  There’s just no activity right now.  The market is very tight.  It is expensive to build a house with the cost of land, water taps, sewer taps, materials, and labor."

    Lessar says there are six general contractors licensed and approved for work in La Veta right now.  "They have the liability insurance and all the paperwork necessary.  In addition, we have a lot of subcontractors  roofers, concrete guys, drywallers, electrician, plumbers, painters."

    Just what are the costs associated with building? Lessar, who is himself a builder, knows it all first hand.  "I build at least two houses per year, and my liability insurance is close to $12,000.  Then my workman’s comp insurance for a four man crew is another $12,000.

    "When I bid a house, I usually quote people a minimum of $100 per square foot.  That figures out to be $200,000 for a 2,000 square-foot house.  The cost can go up from there, depending on architecture and engineering, and the kinds of materials they want in their houses.  Hardwood floors or granite countertops can cause the price to go up a lot more.

    "Labor costs pretty much stay the same.  It’s materials that drive prices up.  And when gas prices are high, surcharges are added to all the deliveries."

    Lessar has noted that many of the new homes in Huerfano County are being built by people who have sold homes from out of our area or even from out of state.  "They are going to retire here, and funding for their new homes here is really not an issue.  We’re seeing a lot of interest from the Denver area right now."

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