Time to build in St. Clair

·3 min read

St. Clair’s new housing market is hot out of the gate in 2021.

In the first three months of this year there were 33 residential building permits approved. This is closing in on the entire 2020 total of 43.

“We’re way up on our residential development for 2021 compared to what we were the last couple of years,” says Mayor Steve Arnold.

The construction value for the 33 homes is $10,872,000, averaging $329,455 per home.

Arnold points to subdivisions such as Paddock Green in Corunna and stretches of the St. Clair Parkway as areas where new builds have been thriving. But he adds he’d like to see even more types of housing in the township.

“We asked the county to look at smaller housing units, places where they could possibly develop tiny home subdivisions and things like that. Because there is a market out there for that,” says Arnold.

The mayor says the county’s current official plan doesn’t allow for the construction of smaller houses catering to one or two people. He’s hopeful changes could be made to allow this, even down to approval of 200 square foot tiny homes.

“I’ve been a proponent for years that we should be looking at single family units… There’s a lot more singles and couples and we need to really take a look at how we can cater to them,” says Arnold.

Renovations are also on pace to hit recent highs with 11 already approved by the end of March. Last year there were 35 total.

“The pandemic has really caused a lot of people to do renovations just to tune their houses up,” says Arnold. “All that increases job opportunities for constructors as well as our suppliers. I see the rest of 2021 just continuing on at a strong pace.”

Pre-pandemic renovation totals were 24 in 2019, 21 in 2018 and 26 in 2017.

St. Clair’s new housing permits in 2020 had dropped by nearly half from the year before. But rather than chalking things up to a pandemic dip, the 43 new residential permits fell more in line with previous years following a 2019 boom.

That year saw 76 new homes given the green light. 2020’s total, while still the lowest in four years, was much closer to the 53 permits from 2018 and 48 permits from 2017.

But despite the lower total of new homes approved for 2020, their average build value of $386,963 was the highest of the last four years and almost $100,000 more than 2019’s average of $289,172.

The average cost to build a home in 2018 was $317,906, up from $291,854 in 2017.

Last year’s construction value of new homes, $16,639,419, was on par with 2018’s $16,849,000 and above 2017’s $14,009,000. The 76 homes in 2019 netted a total construction value of $22,018,175.

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent