His Calhoun County business, Almaroad Construction Inc., had plenty of homes to build in the years prior to the start of the economic recession and the housing market crash in 2007.
“It basically just halted,” Almaroad said of construction after the recession hit. “The stuff we did, the way we operated, it just stopped.”
In the past year, the housing market in the county has improved in terms of sales. But on the construction side of the housing industry, builders like Almaroad are still struggling.
“I don’t see much improvement this year,” Almaroad said. “I think this year is just going to be sort of steady.”
According to the latest statistics from the Alabama Center for Real Estate, no new building permits were issued for homes in Calhoun County in January, compared to nine issued in December and six issued in January of last year. Also, construction started on four homes in Calhoun County in January after construction started on four homes in December.
The state average for new home construction has fared slightly better. The statistics show that 585 new home building permits were issued across the state in January — a 21.4 percent increase from the 482 issued in December and a 6.4 percent increase from the 550 permits issued in January last year.
Still, the overall state housing market is not where it was before the recession started, said Grayson Glaze, executive director of the real estate organization.
“Based on previous sales figures, about 30 percent more growth is needed to get back to a normal market,” Glaze said. “So we have a ways to go. It’s a gradual process that will take a few years.”
Daniel Cofield, owner of Creative Construction in Calhoun County, said he has seen some improvement in the market, but not much.
“We’ve picked up some … there’s been a little rise in the market,” Cofield said. “But I don’t think we’re back where we were before the recession.”
Josh Moses, president of the Home Builders Association of Calhoun County and owner of Moses Construction in Jacksonville, said the market is still very sluggish.
“We’ve still got to move a lot of houses already on the market before new housing construction picks up to a level we’d like,” Moses said. “I think we’re going to see a slow increase, but not pre-recession levels by any means.”
Glaze said it would be hard to justify a large amount of new construction until more homes still on the market are sold.
“It’s not smart to overbuild to begin with into a market that already has plenty of homes,” Glaze said. “There is a balancing act. You cannot just simply build for the sake of the economy.”
With little demand for new home construction, builders like Almaroad have been getting by with remodeling and refurbishing jobs.
“A lot of people, rather than building, are renovating existing homes,” Almaroad said. “We do a lot of renovations.”
Moses said his company has also gotten by in the last few years with renovation work.
“We’re doing a lot of remodeling to existing structures,” Moses said. “That business is still doing well. I think we’ve all seen a pretty good increase in remodeling.”
But despite not seeing much improvement this year, Almaroad expects the market to recover eventually.
“As long as the world stands, man has got to have shelter,” Almaroad said. “I’ve got faith.”
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.