Building permits slumped by 22 percent in Madison County in 2008, and county building inspector Eddie Pritchett fears those numbers will worsen in 2009.
“I imagine so, probably, based on everything that’s going on with our economy,” he said.
Building permits fell by 139 in Madison County in 2008, according to figures from the county building inspections office.
The county issued just 501 permits last year after issuing a total of 640 in 2007.
Despite the dim outlook for 2009, Pritchett is trying to find optimism where he can.
“We’ll just have to see how things will go with rates,” he said. “I think if rates come down, that might help to stimulate some development and growth. Other than that, I don’t know. But things have definitely slowed down.”
Permits for stick-built houses also plummeted last year, dropping from 192 in 2007 to 105 in 2008.
The 105 permits were by far the lowest in the last five years.
With demand for building inspections sagging in 2008, the board of commissioners decided to cut a part-time building inspector from Pritchett’s staff.
The office has two inspectors now.
According to a month-to-month comparison between 2007 and 2008, building permits took a nose-dive during the last half of last year.
Through the first six months of 2008, the numbers were consistent with that of 2007. In fact, the office issued 344 building permits through June 2007 and 340 through June 2008.
But the turning point came in July.
The office issued just 33 permits during that month in 2008, compared to 60 in July 2007.
The greatest disparity then came in Oct. 2008.
The building inspections office issued just 27 permits in 2008 after granting 60 in Oct. 2007.
So far, the outlook for 2009 isn’t prosperous.
The office had issued just 14 permits through Jan. 22.
But Pritchett said that’s not always a good barometer of how a year will end.
He noted that 43 permits were issued in Jan. 2006, compared to 56 in Jan. 2008. The year-end totals for 2006 were some of the county’s highest, while figures for 2008 were woeful.
“It’s up-and-down, month-to-month,” Pritchett said. “We may have a good month and the next month may be slow. We are definitely off to a slow start here though.”