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Building permits way up in West Fargo

This year’s summer weather has had an effect on local projects, but the short North Dakota season is not deterring developers in West Fargo.

Wet weather has been a major hindrance for Lee Jones & Son Construction, which is building Legacy Elementary School.

“It’s a struggle to get to the site,” Tim Jones, company president, said, referring to muddy conditions workers have faced trying to get machinery to where it needs to go.

“Today, we were pouring (concrete) in between rainstorms,” Jones said, adding that because of rain and the fact that frost took longer than usual to leave the ground, many contractors figure they’ve lost four to six weeks of their construction season.

For some projects, lack of qualified workers has slowed things down, according to Mark Housh, head of inspections for the city of West Fargo, where the number of permits issued for commercial construction through the first five months of the year jumped from seven in early 2013 to 20 this year.

Total valuations for those commercial projects went from $3.4 million in early 2013 to $26 million so far this year.

Overall, Housh said, the value of all building permits so far this year totals about $139 million, compared to about $82 million for the same period last year. At that pace, he said, West Fargo could set a record for total building permit valuation this year.

The record, about $216 million, was set in 2012, the year Costco and other large projects received permits.