Four times as many permits for single-family homes were pulled in 2017 in Hall County than in 2011. In 2011, builders spent an estimated $43.9 million on construction — last year, that number stood at $212.9 million.
The figures from Gainesville reflect much the same story: In 2010, Gainesville issued a single permit to build a new home. In 2017, that figure rolled in at 412.
After a few years shaking off the economic recession and housing bubble, Hall County and Gainesville are building at a rapid pace again.
“It looks to me like it’s going to be sustained, and it might even accelerate,” said Lamar Carver, Hall County’s building official who oversees permitting and inspection of construction.
Carver and his office weathered the storm caused by the 2008 financial crisis and the housing bubble, but said that after years of growth he’s hoping to add a couple of positions to his office in the coming years to accommodate the increased workload in the county.
Five years after the initial collapse, 2013 stands out as an illustration of just how slow things became in Hall.
In 2013, the Northeast Georgia Health System launched construction of its Braselton hospital, a buildout of more than $100 million in South Hall. That single project was more than all of the other construction in the county put together that year. The Braselton hospital on its own represented more construction investment than everything that took place in 2012 and 2011 put together.
The figures these days are encouraging as the economy picks up steam. In the meantime, Carver’s office is getting busier and busier, especially in building inspections as homeowners and commercial property owners start investing in their property.
In 2012, the county handled 5,700 inspections of all things from residences to sidewalks to commercial property. By the end of 2015, the county had edged close to 10,000 inspections for the year.
In 2017, the office handled 14,149 inspections as the county ramped up its growth.
The headlines for early 2018 tell the same story:
Jan. 15: First approval given to 55-home subdivision in Flowery Branch
Jan. 15: Work on 233 homes in South Hall starting in May
Jan. 21: 194-home subdivision planned for Flat Creek area
Jan. 31: Group wants to build 100 single-family homes in Gaines Mill Road area
Feb. 1: 94-home subdivision in Flowery Branch gets first OK
Feb. 15: 67-home subdivision gets Flowery Branch City Council’s first OK
They go on and on, showing that metro Atlanta and parts beyond have noticed Gainesville and the rest of the county’s communities draped around Lake Lanier.
For the most part, the expected growth is happening in expected places: Gainesville is seeing more commercial growth and the county more residential.
Gainesville issued 2,500 building permits in 2017, according to city spokeswoman Catiel Felts.
Of those, 412 were for single-family homes. Last year saw a slight drop from 2016’s 431 residential permits because of a building boost at Cresswind and in Mundy Mill.
Permits as a whole increased in 2017 over 2016, during which Gainesville issued 2,200.
While Hall County is seeing more residential growth as more people move in from Gwinnett County and other metro Atlanta counties, Hall’s commercial prospects are more than what they used to be. Officials are pointing to sewer expansion into South Hall and East Hall as the reason for commercial growth.
There are other breaks from the trend: Though it’s off to sputtering start, a large subdivision is in the works for Oakwood, heretofore a fortress of commercial businesses with a relatively minor residential component.
Carver said the building permits show these subdivisions are following some key features.
“If you have the infrastructure in place — I-985 and (Ga.) 365 have a railroad spur, an expressway for traffic, water, sewer and available land,” Carver said in his office in February. “It may take a few years for it to get primed and really get going, but that’ll be a good growth area.”
Commercial development especially depends on sewer, which is why Lanier Technical College is relocating to Ga. 365 and why the county planted the Gateway Industrial Center along the same stretch of highway.
But it’s also critical for the large-scale development being seen in places like South Hall.
“Sewer in South Hall was a big deal. That was a game changer,” Carver said.