The City of Omaha has set a record this year for the number of permits issued for construction-related projects — a sign, officials say, of a housing market on the move.
“Money is freeing up, allowing people to build again, whether in renovation or new construction,” said Jay Davis, head of the city's permits and inspection division.
By mid-December, Omaha granted about 39,200 building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits. That count reflects both residential and commercial projects and covers a broad range of work, from building a new home or business to a kitchen remodel to a fence or furnace replacement.
The 39,200 number already has surpassed last year's 38,794; and 2011 broke the previous 2006 record of 37,363 permits.
Permits in Omaha were down in 2007 through 2009 during the national financial crisis and then began to climb in 2010.
At the current pace, city officials said, it is likely that the total permits for core building projects could reach the 40,000 mark.
Perhaps contributing to this year's uptick, said Davis, was an online application launched in late 2011 for some permits. He said about 37 percent of permits filed this year were done so electronically.
Overall, though, Davis said he's noticed many requests for remodeling and deferred maintenance efforts.
And the number of permits for Omaha single-family homes and duplexes increased slightly after dropping annually since 2007. In 2007, 1,810 permits were issued; in 2008, 1,566; 2009, 1,402; 2010, 1,128; 2011, 1091. As of Dec. 10, 1,167 permits were issued in 2012.
While the record-breaking permit count “shows positive movement overall,” Davis said he was being careful not to cheer too quickly or too loudly.
“There is an awful lot of cautious optimism involved in the numbers,” he said. “You don't want to start riding pretty high on your laurels, realizing that 2007, 2008 and 2009 were pretty miserable for everybody.”
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