Springing forward

Contractors are hoping for an early spring to get a jump on all the work that is shaping up for Minot this year.

It remains to be seen whether school bond issues will pass, the weather will cooperate and home buyers will be out in force. But construction companies are optimistic.

“It’s going to be, we think, pretty busy,” said Brian LaCount, president of Rolac Contracting, whose company already has projects lined up at Roosevelt Park Zoo.

“It may not be as crazy busy as last year and the end of 2012. It was harder for contractors to maintain the schedule to some degree because there was so much work. Right now, we don’t anticipate that same issue,” he said. “It may actually be a little bit of a blessing.”

Curt Schaefer, manager of Minot Lumber and Hardware, is hoping for a more productive year than 2013.

“We had geared up last year to do a lot more than we did. We kept waiting for spring to come, and it kind of never did. Once the snow stopped falling, then it turned to rain and that went on for so long,” he said.

Some contractors have 2013 projects to finish in 2014 because of the weather delays. The cold winter hasn’t allowed for as much catch-up as some would have liked, either. The result could be contractors eager to get going at the first sign of spring.

“I would say commercial is going to be strong again this year, which is nice to see because that always drives the rest,” Schaefer said. “It brings in more workers, more opportunities for more homes.”

Schaefer added that multi-family construction seems to be the trend in the residential market.

“But there are some developers that are working on some lower-cost housing. It looks very promising,” he said.

Joel Feist, president of Real Builders, sees strong interest in single-family housing in the Minot area.

“It’s down a little bit, but it’s still substantially higher than it has been in years gone by. I anticipate that the housing sector will be pretty steady yet this year. We have numerous people coming with house plans,” he said.

Last year was the second highest year for building permits in Minot’s history. More than $261 million in building permits were issued in 2013, compared to $304.9 million in 2012 and nearly $204.6 million in 2011.

The city issued permits in 2013 for 191 new single-family homes, 67 townhomes, 40 condominiums, and 1,026 apartment units. In addition, the city issued 45 permits for industrial and manufacturing and 41 permits for offices, banks and professional buildings.

“Last year was strong. This year, I think, will probably be stronger,” said Glenn Moen with Mattson Construction.

Moen said there may not be new building permits the size of last year’s county office building and the city’s airport terminal, but there will be numerous projects. At least one school project will be among them. South Prairie School approved a bond issue to build a high school.

Nedrose voters go to the poll today to consider a similar issue, and Minot Public School District voters will decide a bond issue in April for various projects. Other school districts in the region also have passed or will vote on school construction funding.

Pat Bailey, manager at Muus Lumber, said 2014 construction overall should be similar to 2013, but it is difficult to make a solid prediction.

“It’s kind of cloudy right now. The main reason it’s hard to get a grasp on it is the weather we have been dealing with since the beginning of December,” he said.

Given favorable weather, contractors could get a lot accomplished in 2014, he said.

“They are still pretty inundated with projects,” Bailey said, “but there are contractors out there to get a project going and done.”

Steve Siemieniewski, manager of Crane Johnson Lumber in Surrey agreed that contractors are available for people looking to build homes in 2014. Many developers put in infrastructure during 2013, so the focus in 2014 will turn to home building.

“There’s a lot of people looking to put houses up,” he said of contractors. “It’s a matter of ‘will spring bring buyers?'”