Home construction and purchase costs soar in King County

Costs in the homebuilding industry are on the rise, excluding thousands of potential buyers and putting new projects on hold.

KING COUNTY, Wash. – The boiling housing market continues to put buyers in a difficult spot and according to the National Association of Home Builders. Even those in the construction industry are growing increasingly frustrated.

The median selling price of a home in King County sits at nearly $890,000 according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Statewide, it’s closer to $590,000, an unaffordable amount for many Washington families, and it’s taking a heavy toll on the construction industry.

Nationally, homebuilder confidence fell slightly in January.

The cost of doing business has had a major impact on home builders in recent years. The price of materials is higher and sometimes the supply is limited. The costs of wood, gypsum, steel and labor jumped dramatically.

Builders have to pass on increased costs to buyers and these increases have forced some out of the market.

Joseph Irons is a local home builder and renovator. He said the impacts on the industry were being felt everywhere.

“Material cost and supply chain issues affect everyone in our industry, whether it’s a delay in the project or materials we sometimes couldn’t even get,” Irons said. .

A project Irons started working on in 2019 initially had a quote of $30,000 for materials. In 2020, that estimate increased to $100,000 for wood.

The price of imported wood is at record highs. The Building Industry Association of Washington reports that the average cost of a newly built home is $522,000.

For every thousand dollar increase in the cost of a home, 2,500 buyers are priced off, according to the association.

Home builders hope that some laws proposed in Olympia can help them.

“We’re asking lawmakers to consider the costs of regulations and the impacts and supply chain issues when adding new regulations to construction,” Irons explained.

There are four pieces of legislation that the construction industry supports:

  • HB 1162 – Adds a new graduation path that will allow more students to explore careers in trades like home building.
  • SB 5964 – Consolidates and streamlines the local permit review process.
  • HB 2066 – Eliminates duplicate regulatory requirements for development to comply with the State Environmental Policy Act when the project already complies with the Growth Management Act.
  • HB 2049 – Streamlines the building permit process by requiring local governments to accept a permit with plans prepared, stamped, and signed by a professional engineer or architect to be considered complete.

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