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Number of new home building permits up in most of metro, but not Kansas City

New construction in KC
Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-04 23:37:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Homebuilders Association of Kansas City says many communities are seeing an increase in permits to build new single-family homes.

But the number of permits issued are down in Kansas City, Missouri.

"Historically, we would build about 45 homes a year just within the city limits of Kansas City," said Dennis Shriver with Hearthside Homes of Kansas City. "In the last six months, I've pulled no permits in Kansas City and that's primarily due to this new energy code. We've moved a lot of our operations to different jurisdictions around the metro."

The number of permits issued for new single-family houses doesn't just matter to new home buyers.

It also impacts those who rent and those paying a mortgage.

"It affects all forms of housing. Not just people that are looking for new homes, but it affects rent prices, it affects property taxes. It affects just the overall growth of the city and the income they have coming in from residents," Shriver said.

The building codes followed by builders changed in September 2023.

The goal was to make new homes more energy efficient.

That would make the homes a bit more expensive up front, but better in the long run.

Getting designs to meet those new standards is easier said than done.

"If we build this house facing north, it might meet code," Shriver said. "If we try and build the same house facing east, it might not, or vice-versa. So it's very site-specific."

SAB Homes was the first company to crack the code a few months ago and get a new home approved.

Will Ruder with the Homebuilders Association of Greater Kansas City says the hope was that would provide a template for others to follow.

“I think the complexity of the code itself kind of takes away from that ability to scale up," Ruder said. “Each one of these housing starts, these permits, are treated like a custom home rather than, ‘Okay, we’ve figured it out. This is the template.’”

The city says submitted designs have repeatedly not met the new code.

"And here we are six months after a code change and we see a city that's issued nine single family permits under that new code having averaged previously 85 permits per month," Ruder said.

The city says it's working to make things easier by revising an information bulletin to make requirements easier to understand.

In addition, the city is encouraging contractors and designers to take advantage of code compliance training.

They are hopeful home building eventually recovers in KCMO.

The city has approved 267 older permits in the city, but eventually those older submissions will run out.

"We have to keep talking about it," Ruder said. "Housing is too important to just say, 'Well, guess this is just the way it is.'"