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Report: Cold weather to blame for slowdown in home building

By Emily Kumlien, ekumlien@wisctv.com
Published On: Feb 25 2014 09:49:00 PM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

A new nationwide report said bad weather is to blame for a slowdown in home construction.

New-home construction dropped 16 percent last month, which is the biggest one-month drop in three years, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Local experts believe there's more to the story, but agree the brutally cold weather is the main reason for the drop.

"The frost line from the ground line to the grass line normally around this time of year, it's one to two feet; right now it's at four feet, and that is significantly different and not good for pouring concrete," said Kirsten Lee Villegas, state executive officer for the Wisconsin Builders Association.

The report also reveals confidence among U.S. builders has plummeted.

Villegas said she has spoken to representatives in all 23 associations in Wisconsin, and she believes they are confidant.

"They are cautiously optimistic about the housing, building and remodeling industry in this coming year. That comes from statistics that are up from previous years. So I think the January weather really is an anomaly that has affected many different industries,” Villegas said. “They want to make sure they are building quality homes. It’s worth the safety of their workers to not be out in this frigid weather."

She said a good indicator of confidence in the Midwest is the number of permits taken out in January for single-family housing.

The permits rose 60 percent last month, indicating future building activity.

Since it takes four to six months to build a house, Villegas said the cold weather will affect this year's parade of homes.

It will still happen but it won't be ready at the end of June like normal.

This weekend the Madison Area Builders Association is hosting is Dream-Home Showcase at the Alliant Energy Center. There will be experts at the showcase available to answer questions or concerns about the market.

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