MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) -
(05/19/14) - If you're a home builder, the last six years have been tough. New home construction in Mid-Michigan tanked.
Builders say there's hope the industry is coming back, but they're busy in only a few isolated spots and they're having a hard time finding experienced workers.
Many of those is the building trades haven't been very busy since the housing industry slumped in 2008.
"We do have a lot of local builders who are more active now than they have been in the last six years, which is a very good sign," said John Katzenberger, Michigan Lumber account manager
Michigan Lumber, in Flint, says sales are up about 12 percent from last year, but not a lot of the projects are in Genesee County.
"Oakland County right now is where we're seeing most of our activity. Our trucks leave here at 6 in the morning and that's where we're headed, down I-75," Katzenberger said.
Most of the Genesee County housing starts are in the area of Fenton and Linden.
"I've got a new build down on Lake Shamauga in Howell. I'm bidding two more now. I've got this one. The last new build I did was in 2007," said Scott Tarkleson, of Fenton Lakes Building and Design.
Because it's been so long since the housing industry was booming, contractors can sometimes have a hard time finding certain workers.
"There's definitely a shortage of framers right now to rough frame houses," said Seth Rinks, Michigan Lumber sales manager.
"There's a severe shortage of skilled trades because they left the industry or left the state," said Stephen Allen, of RKB design and remodeling.
Several contractors say they have a core of dependable workers, but finding extra help can be challenging.
"These people are gone. There are no trades to speak of in Genesee County right now. It's a balancing act for a contractor to schedule and get his trades online so they can build a project expediently," Katzenberger said.