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Workers needed to meet home building resurgence

10:19 PM, May 9, 2013   |    comments
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18 new homes will soon stand at Jefferson Park in West Knox County.

The U.S. housing market is experiencing a resurgence, but is lacking enough construction workers to meet the demand.

The number of homes under contract rose 1.5% in March.

One of the reasons behind the increase--mortgage rates are at a record low with a 2.5% rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage.

But the good news also comes with a headache for construction companies in Knoxville.

Jefferson Park is one subdivision in West Knox County that is rapidly growing.

According to the Home Builders Association of Greater Knoxville (HBAGK), 14 homes are being built at Jefferson Park and workers will soon break ground on 4 additional sites.

"In the last 4-6 months the housing market has significantly improved. And the labor force has not been able to keep up with the construction demand, which is a good and a bad problem," said Scott Davis, president of HBAGK and president of Eagle Bend Development and Construction.

Davis went on to say, It's great that we're having new construction activity but it's challenging because we don't have the personnel to keep up with the new construction demand."

Contractor James Welch with Jarco Builders Inc. needs framers to work on a house at Jefferson Park.

"I've got a framer right now looking for some workers in Georgia and Alabama to bring up here to help me. I've actually been wearing my tools and going back and doing framing. The framing that's been done, I've done that myself with two helpers," Welch said.

After the housing bubble burst, many found new work outside of construction.

"Most people I know who are in the business are 50+ so there is a vacuum for the younger generation, the 25 to 45-year-olds. Because the market's been so bad, they've not been willing to come into the business," Davis said.

Davis is hopeful that as the market continues to improve, workers will return to the field.

According to Davis, construction permits in Knoxville are on the rise again.

They were pulling about 3,200 construction permits in 2007-2008; it dropped to 700 permits in 2011-2012 but this year HBAGK is hoping for 900 permits.

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