Home construction on the North Coast this season remains sluggish enough to match last year’s dismal results.
Sonoma County may even set a modern low for single-family home construction. For the first seven months of the the year, county builders pulled just 132 permits for such homes, compared to 219 for the same period in 2009, according the Construction Industry Research Board in Burbank.
Last year the county and its nine cities issued just 406 permits for new houses, condominiums and apartments. In 2004, such permits totaled 1,941.
“The hard data gives truth to the anecdotes that I hear constantly that there’s very little going on out there,” said Keith Woods, chief executive officer of the North Coast Builders Exchange in Santa Rosa.
Builders hope for better times next year, Woods said. Even so, he said, they generally foresee “a long, slow tortuous path to any kind of recovery.”
Mendocino County issued 76 new home permits for the first seven months of 2010, compared to 59 for the same period a year earlier. Lake County issued 29 such permits, compared to 31 a year earlier, according to the research board.
The results were slightly better for the Bay Area, but still far below historic trends.
“I think that overall the home building industry is still going through a difficult time,” said Cheryl O’Connor, president/CEO of the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area.
“Home values have fallen so much” that many builders plan to delay new projects until next year, she said.
The Bay Area reported 2,326 permits issued for new single-family homes in the first seven months of 2010, up 22 percent from a year earlier. California’s results were up 7 percent to 15,288 permits.
For all of 2009, California issued 36,000 permits for new single- and multi-family units, the lowest number in more than four decades. As recently as 2004, the state’s builders took out 213,000 permits.
Home construction likely will remain low as long as the housing market has so many foreclosures and other distressed properties for sale, builders have said. Such homes are selling for less than the cost of building new ones.

The full story is slated for the Saturday edition of The Press Democrat.
— Robert Digitale