Washington Co. sees increase in building permit values despite pandemic

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WASHINGTON Co., Tenn. (WJHL)- Washington Co., Tennessee government is seeing a six-figure surge in building permit values.

“Right now, we have plenty of lots for what we have right now. I think before long lots are going to be scarce and be a little bit harder to get,” said builder Tim Hicks who owns Hicks Construction.

Hicks has been busy throughout the pandemic not just because he’s also running for state representative.

“We’ve had plenty of work, plenty of customers. Historically, during an election year and then you put on top of that a pandemic… you would think that the construction business would slow down,” Hicks said.

Compared to 2019, Washington Co. has issued almost $800,000 more in building permits.

“We are not as affected by what we have been going through the last couple of months and we do not see really it affecting our numbers in permits that we’ve issued,” said County Building Official Scott Chapman. “A lot of the sales are from outside people that are relocating into this area.”

This is the first year the county has tracked permits for renovations and additions.

“We are noticing what we would look at as an increase in additions and permits for additions and renovations,” said Chapman. “What we actually monitor is the valuation and we do see an increase in the single-family valuation.”

That increase in permit values adds to the county’s overall tax roll.

“Permits have been good and we’re going to have a good year as far as houses and so forth,” said Washington Co. Property Assessor Scott Buckingham. “What we do is take the permits from the building department and we go pick up those houses and add them to the tax base. They will be prorated for the year that they picked up in then they go on full value the next year.”

Despite Covid-19, Washington Co. is expected to see continued construction growth.

“You’re seeing the average price of a home go up due to the material in the home. The material is a lot more right now to build a house but also the land cost and the lot cost,” Buckingham said. “Going into the summertime and fall- Washington County is going to be okay.”

Chapman, Buckingham and Hicks say they expect this surge to continue throughout the summer.

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