Southern Maine 2011 and 2012 Housing Starts

Single Family Construction Starts

2011 - 2012*
*Jan. - Sept.

Over 50% decrease    50 - 33% decrease    0 - 33% decrease 0 - 25% increase
25 - 50% increase    50 - 100% increase    100 - 200% increase Over 200% increase

Click on towns to see data   Source: Construction Data New England

November 13, 2012

New-home construction surges in southern Maine

But the rise in permits may not signal recovery, builders caution, noting that the rest of Maine is still in the cellar.

By Jessica Hall
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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A worker installs siding Friday on a new home in the Sunrise Ridge subdivision along the Portland Road in Buxton. In southern Maine, places where construction of new homes has increased substantially since last year include Kittery, Waterboro and Wells.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

John Carter, Wells' town manager, said the town is benefiting somewhat from retirees and out-of-state buyers of second homes, as well as the mix of housing stock that ranges from seasonal cottages, costing $150,000 to $225,000, to condominiums and exclusive oceanfront homes. The development also has been propelled by the lifting in 2009 of a building cap that had limited new-home construction, said Wells Code Enforcement Officer Jodine Adams.

The building cap had "limited our growth for awhile," Adams said. "We haven't been hurt by the recession at all."

Except for custom builders who design multimillion-dollar waterfront homes, contractors said they are seeing the highest demand for modest homes and condominums.

"Last year, we built a lot of ranches. This year, we're building slightly bigger homes, but most are still in the 1,500- to 1,800-square-feet range," Patterson said.

Also tempering the rise in new-home permits is a decline in remodeling and renovations, according to Construction Data New England.

There were 1,193 permits issued for renovations and additions for the first nine months of this year, down from 1,264 permits a year ago and down from as many as 1,719 permits in pre-recession 2007.

There could be several explanations for the drop in remodeling, builders said.

Patterson said renovations often are paid out-of-pocket by homeowners, rather than financed through a bank. Many people also have depleted their savings during the recession or have little to no equity in their home to refinance or borrow money. There's also the possibility that anyone who wanted to renovate has already done it over the past several years.

"People have been renovating for the past four years while they waited for the housing market to improve. Everyone has done what they wanted to do. It's not a surprise to see some softness there," said Duell of the home builders and remodelers trade group.

Ron Petrone of Petrone Construction in Cape Elizabeth said his remodeling business has actually improved this year, but now customers are more careful about containing construction costs than in the past.

"People are more aware right now about costs," he said. "I have more informed clients."

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:


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Today's poll: Housing market

Do you think southern Maine’s real estate market is starting to rebound?



View Results