Originally created 05/27/98

Area construction declines



Augusta-area residential construction was down about 7 percent in April, according to a report released Tuesday by F.W. Dodge, the construction division of McGraw-Hill.

The report compares the value of residential building permits issued in the five-county, two-state metropolitan area in April compared with April 1997. It showed that last month's construction was down about $2.03 million, from about $29.72 million in April 1997 to about $27.68 million.

The figures are calculated monthly for Columbia, McDuffie and Richmond counties in Georgia, and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina.

Year-to-date figures showed, however, Augusta-area residential construction was up 30 percent from 1997 to 1998. It was about $125.71 million last month and about $96.67 million in April 1997.

The value of nonresidential construction in Augusta increased 12 percent. It was $18.89 million last month, compared with $16.84 million in April 1997.

"We've had more new construction than we had last year and the market is very good," said Frances Harley, associate broker and vice president at Sherman & Hemstreet/Better Homes & Gardens. The market is being fueled by industries moving into the area, she said.

It also may be driven by low interest rates, some brokers said.

"That's a large factor," said Ken Richards, vice president of Pierwood Construction in Martinez. "More people can afford to buy."

The value of total building construction contracts for April was about $46.57 million, the same as it was a year earlier.

Also Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors reported U.S. home resales fell in April, sliding 2.5 percent from a record level in March.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.