Toby Rhoades, Buffalo’s building inspector, said he has received more building permits this year than in past years.
For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, Rhodes received 294 building permit applicationss. Many of the permit applicationss were for roofing companies as they repaired the damage from a hailstorm that pummeled Buffalo in July 2018, according to Rhoades.
Rhoades said the city issued 82 permits in July 2019 and three so far in August.
According to Rhoades, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the city received 155 building permit applications and 16 homes were completed in Buffalo that year. There were applications for 210 permits in fiscal year 2017.
Much of the new home building is taking place at the Preserve at Fort McKinney, Rhoades said.
“There’s been eight new homes out there since July 1, 2018,” he said. “There’s been three on Buffalo Ridge, and three in Eagle Summit. The rest are kind of scattered out.”
The Preserve at Fort McKinney is a subdivision located west of Buffalo on U.S. Highway 16. Buffalo Ridge is located north of Buffalo on Watkins Street and Eagle Summit is located to the northwest on French Creek Road.
Rhoades said that retirees have purchased many of the new homes.
“Many times, they’re selling out of an area that’s much more expensive, as far as real estate goes,” Rhoades said. “They enjoy being able to come here and buy and have money left over, and be a half-hour from the Bighorn Mountains.”
More of the permits that have been issued are for smaller homes than in previous years.
“We’re getting away from the 1,800-square-foot home, and they’re building between 1,200 and 1,400 now,” Rhoades said. “That’s what people are building – smaller homes. They’re downsizing and going with something that’s easier to maintain.”
Building permits outside Buffalo city limits, in Johnson County, are required. The county maintains numbers on the number of required permits issued to build new septic systems, an indicator of construction within county limits, according to Jim Waller, Johnson County’s geographical information systems manager and county planner.
“They must have a septic permit,” Waller said. “So I know if it’s for a new house or if it’s for replacement. So I have a really good idea as far as what is being built.”
According to Waller, through the 2018 fiscal year, 34 permits were issued for new septic systems. The previous year saw the same number issued, compared with 25 permits issued in 2016 and 26 in 2015.
“You can draw your own conclusions if there is a trend or not a trend,” Waller said.
Both Rhoades and Waller agree that many new builders are of retirement age.
Jillian Smith is a real estate agent with the Coldwell Banker Legacy Group. She has found that many people may be building new homes to save themselves having to modernize an older home.
According to Smith, to date in 2019, 24 lots or land parcels were sold for an average of $83,000 and a low of $64,000, compared with 48 lot and land parcels in 2018 with an average price of $87,000 and a low of $68,000. In 2017, the costs were much higher – 41 lots and land parcels sold, with an average price of $98,000 and a low of $75,000.
“These still show an increase over recent years in the desire for parcels that are, for the most part, close to town,” Smith said. “(Those) provide a bit more space than a town lot and offer the chance for a more modern home in comparison to your typical resale home, which in most cases in our area would require updating to bring it up to a comparable finish level to a new construction product.”