An explosion of building permit activity has Minot poised to do something that seemed unthinkable only a few short years ago.
According to the City of Minot Inspection Division, building permit activity in 2012 has totaled $291,737,436 as of Nov. 30. With one month left to go, it seems certain that Minot will pass the $300 million mark.
Dee Falkinburg, a clerk in the city inspection office, stated the reason why quite succinctly.
Jesse Watson/MDN • Work continues on the new MarketPlace Foods grocery store on North Hill Thursday. With Minot’s south side already heavily developed, the North Hill area is finally seeing some new construction thanks to Minot’s boom the past few years.
"A whole lot of building going on," Falkinburg said.
Although nothing will be official until the December building activity report is compiled, Falkinburg is confident the mark will be passed, noting she still has several permits in the office yet to go out.
"Oh yeah. I have a feeling we probably will," Falkinburg said. "It's just growing and growing."
Falkinburg was unsure if building permit valuations had ever been this high in the past, but said it was easily the highest it had ever been during her three years in the office.
It's not just one area that is experiencing growth, but every one, both in commercial and residential building. Falkinburg rattled off several new residential divisions around Minot just off the top of her head that are currently being built, and they were just the tip of the iceberg.
"It's busy all over the place, everywhere," Falkinburg said.
While growth is indeed everywhere, some numbers from past building permit reports do tend to jump out to even the most casual observer.
In 2008 and 2009, there was no activity whatsoever in the hotels and motels category. In 2010, the total valuation jumped to $5,582,000. Just one year later in 2011, that number exploded to $31,028,000, showing just how busy the hotel and motel sector has become in the Magic City. Falkinburg said individual numbers for 2012 won't be known until early next year when all the reports are compiled, but most sectors will probably be up considering there should be a $100 million boost from the total building permit valuation of 2011.
Residential construction has also seen large gains over the past few years. Single family residence valuations totaled $16,772,806 in 2008 and $16,333,000 in 2009 before dipping slightly in 2010 to $14,438,000. Then in 2011 it doubled to $28,179,000.
A similar upward trend can be seen in townhouses. In 2008 and 2009 valuations were $896,000 and $853,000, respectively, before surging to $4,244,000 in 2010 and $13,575,000 in 2011.
"You can't drive around town without seeing something going up," Falkinburg said.
The total yearly valuations of the past four years follow a similar pattern. In 2008 total building permit activity was $80,250,518. That number dipped a bit in 2009 to $65,962,200, but came back strong in 2010 at 100,020,800. Then in 2011 it more than doubled to $204,560,200.
An interesting nugget in the monthly totals from 2012 is October, which at $64,800,700 dwarfed the next closest month, April, at $37,206,200. Falkinburg said the high October number was the result of contractors pushing to get as much work in as possible before the ground froze. Interestingly, she said that hasn't happened in previous years.
"Just this year, it seems like," she said. "All of a sudden it just exploded."
Looking ahead to 2013, Falkinburg laughed at the notion that the total building permit valuation might drop back below $300 million. As for the other end of the spectrum, she said it's tough to predict whether that number could hit $400 million next year, but admitted it is a possibility.
"It's pretty crazy. We've got a lot of plans to do. We're still going through planning through all the steps and everything. A plan has to go through the city council before it gets approved," Falkinburg said. "We've still got a lot of plans out there, so we might."
Real Builders Inc. has been operating in the Minot area for over 20 years, and is right in the middle of Minot's construction boom. Joel Feist, president, said they do both commercial and residential construction, and have been concentrating on the commercial end lately.
"We've been busy in the hotel market," Feist said. "We just completed this summer a 47-room addition on the Souris Valley Suites, just completed the Hampton Inn on North Broadway. That opened on Aug. 7."
Now the pendulum is starting to swing back to the residential market for Real Builders. Whether they're concentrating on commercial or residential, Feist said there has been no shortage of work for the company. He noted 2012 has been neck-and-neck with 2011 in terms of work, putting both those years right at the top of the list.
"The last couple of years have been some of the busiest we've ever seen," Feist said.
He said they are already getting a jump on 2013 by starting a new housing development west of the old Sykes building in northwest Minot called Prairie Pointe Development that will have 144 townhouses and 44 single family units.
One of the biggest challenges Feist has faced during this building boom is the same one just about every other business in the area is dealing with to one degree or another - a shortage of workers. He said relief has been found in the form of out-of-state subcontractors.
Feist said in the last 2 1/2 to 3 years there has been a steady influx of additional subcontractors coming in from areas like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Las Vegas, Wyoming and Montana.
"Their economies, I think, are a little bit more stagnant than ours, and they're all looking for something to do," Feist said. "Luckily, there has been adequate forces to help keep up with the demand (in Minot)."
Another added benefit to the many out-of-state subcontractors coming to Minot has been that many are choosing to keep a permanent presence here, according to Feist.
"A lot of those guys are coming up here and actually establishing offices here and are sticking around," Feist said. "They like working up here."
Feist hasn't made any big expansions to the company during this boom, not wanting to overextend his resources too much in case construction slows down for some reason. While that means his workload hasn't seen the same explosive growth Minot's building permit valuations have seen, Feist did say the current work they are doing is easily three times as much as in years gone by.
As for what 2013 might bring, Feist sees a similar workload to the past couple of years, and that suits him just fine.
"As far as what we're going to be doing, we'll be right in the same range of volume of work," Feist said. "We're going to stay where we're at. It seems like when you (expand) you get spread out too thin and you don't get things done the way they should be done."