For all the concerns about the slow start to the year, contracting for the first quarter actually showed improvement over the same period in 2012. Non-residential contracting for January through March totaled $479.1 million, an 8.7 percent increase over the same period last year. Bidding activity and sentiment in the early second quarter pointed to an upward trend. Construction in the first quarter is typically between 15 and 20 percent of the year’s total. Using that ratio and analysis of the trend, a total of $3 billion in contracting for 2013 is realistic.
Residential construction was improved even more so over 2012. Permits for new single-family dwellings were up over 14 percent compared to the first quarter of last year. Given the poor weather – which impacts housing construction more – and the limited lot inventory, such an increase in the first three months was a surprise. Overall housing starts were down slightly, with 741 units compared to 804 units in 2012. The decline in attached and multi-family housing was due mainly to timing. Because of the projects in the pipeline, permits for this category of home will outpace the full year of 2012 by at least 400 units.
The top municipalities for home building in the first quarter are below.