The Northeast Florida Builders Association expects growth in 2021.
There were 12,555 single-family residential building permits issued in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties last year, up 21.4% from 2019, according to data from the Northeast Florida Builders Association.
NEFBA President Keith Ward of Thomas May Construction said despite the pandemic, builders were as busy as ever in 2020.
“COVID did not really slow down the construction business, commercial or residential, in Northeast Florida,” Ward said.
“I think there is such a high demand for housing, especially in Northeast Florida, right now that we were able to keep moving forward.”
With an influx of new residents to Northeast Florida during the pandemic, demand for housing is causing a low-inventory market. Homebuilders are helping to put new properties on the market.
“The demand has not slowed down, we don’t have enough housing in stock right now to keep up with the market,” Ward said.
Duval County saw the biggest jump in permits over last year, with 5,463 in 2020. That is 29.8% higher than in 2019.
Permits in St. Johns increased 20.6%, Nassau increased 11.3% and Clay permits were up 0.9%.
At the start of the pandemic, Ward expected the construction industry to take a hit.
His company, which focuses on commercial construction, did not have a decrease in business last year.
“Most of the people that I know and the larger homebuilders didn’t really see a slowdown,” he said.
“Everybody I know has been talking about how they’re as busy as can be.”
July was the busiest month for builders in 2020, with 1,251 permits issued in the region. There were 18.5% more permits issued than in the same period in 2019.
May had the fewest permits issued, with 791 that month, a 19.8% decrease from May 2019.
In 2021, Ward said he expects builders to have more business than in 2020.
In addition to new construction, Ward said contractors have been seeing more business from customers wanting to remodel their homes, which will increase business.
“The builder’s association is preparing for a 15% growth in permits for 2021,” he said.
“We’ve been gaining on the last couple of years.”
In the past 20 years that NEFBA has tracked the data, 2020 had the third-highest number of building permits.
There were 17,753 permits issued in 2005 and 13,725 in 2004, before the 2007-09 Great Recession.
The lowest point was in 2011, with 3,151 permits.