New home construction continues downward spiral
by Tom Chillemi
The construction of new houses remains stagnant in Middlesex County. In 2012, construction was started on just 30 single-family dwellings—the fewest in at least 12 years—and one less than in 2011 when 31 houses were built.
There are plenty of building lots available. In 2008, Middlesex County approved 95 lots (with 123 dwellings) for Phase I of Rosegill, just south of Urbanna; 88 lots at Water View Landing; 85 lots for “Stonebrook at the Courthouse” in Saluda; and 21 lots were approved for Glennfield on Crittenden Road in Deltaville.
In the more than 4 years since the subdivisions were approved, no construction has occurred on any of these 289 lots.
Also in 2008, 40 lots were approved for Fairfield Trace near Piankatank River Golf Club in Hartfield. Only one house has been built and construction was started on another one in 2012.
The 10-year average for new dwellings in Middlesex is about 79 per year. The 12-year average, going back to 2001, is 82 houses a year.
These figures pale in comparison to the heyday of construction between 2001 and 2008 when 838 houses were built—an average of 104 per year.
In the 4 years since the economic recession began in 2008, just 149 houses have been built—an average of 37 per year.
In 2012, new manufactured homes sited in Middlesex remained at 12, the same number as 2011.
Johnny Fleet, a Middlesex businessman, said that among factors contributing to the decline of construction is the devaluation of existing homes due to the recession, and the increasing price of building materials. These factors mean a buyer can purchase an existing home cheaper than a new one can be built.