Permits for new homes increasing but building process filled with delays

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A shortage of homes across North Carolina remains a top issue for homebuyers trying to break into one of the hottest housing markets.

The ABC11 I-Team uncovered more permits for new residential construction are being approved but relief may not be as simple.

"Timeframes are probably the longest they've ever been. At the same time. We need houses built faster than we ever have," said David Price, the owner of Price Construction.

Price is involved with residential construction throughout the Triangle and is also the president of the Raleigh-Wake County Homebuilders Association. He said supply chain issues and staffing shortages across the entire process are continual challenges. Price explained it's taking longer and longer for projects to even get started.

"Part of the issue we're faced with right now is everybody's busy, right?" Price said. "A lot of people are understaffed and that goes all the way from permit departments and just about every municipality to engineers to architects to surveyors."

Wake County's planning department is requesting four additional staff members this year to assist with service delivery.

Other municipalities, like Fayetteville, echoed similar issues in attracting and retaining staff.

"It's difficult to find somebody to replace them because then when they come in, you got to do the training. They've got to get certified through the state. So, it's a process here, and if the labor force isn't there for us to pick from, it becomes quite challenging," said Jason Everage, the chief building official for Fayetteville.

Fayetteville has already processed 5.4% more residential and commercial permits this year than last year.

"It's building like crazy," Everage said. "And we're trying to keep up, but as far as from fiscal year 21' to this year 22'. I mean, we're up 15, 20%."

Single-family home permits are up 22% with 368 permits submitted over the last 11 months in Fayetteville. Permits for multifamily units are also up by nearly 500 more units, according on data provided by Fayetteville.

Everage said the city is still processing permits in two days.

Cumberland County's planning and inspection director Rawls Howard said overall permits are continuing to pile up.

"We're not really seeing any real dip in homes or home construction, if anything, we're seeing an uptick in the amount of activity that we have going on, so we certainly think that's exciting," Howard said.

Permits in the county take 36 hours to two weeks for approval and then up to two days for them to be issued. Cumberland County is reviewing around 60 permits for new residential construction.

The county said it is not experiencing any staff shortages

"I think we're certainly holding our own. We're able to maintain our inspection timelines and our turnaround timelines for inspections," Howard said.

Since last July, the county has issued 344 single-family home permits, just three fewer than this time last year.

Wake County officials said the average number of new home permits per month is slightly down around 20% according to county officials.

However, the most recent data from Wake County showed a 12% increase in new residential permits from the previous year and a 14% increase from 2019. Permits increased the most in Garner and Fuquay-Varina, according to the county data.

At 135 permits, Durham County has 18% more new residential permits filed than this time last year. Meanwhile, permits filed within the city are down by 2% with 1,538 filed since last July.

Price said incentivizing hiring for permitting officials may help ease part of the problem, but shortages persist across every step.

"We do need to figure out a way to get homes built quicker," Price said. "We are faced with a crunch and housing. If we're going to continue to open up jobs to companies moving here and things like that, we're going to need to be able to supply to workers with housing."
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