ATLANTIC CITY, NJ—(SBN)—Last year was the best year for homebuilding in New Jersey since 2006 and 2015 is likely to see a return to historic levels, according to George Vallone, the incoming president of the New Jersey Builders Association. Vallone sat for an exclusive interview with State Broadcast News for GlobeSt.com during the group’s Atlantic Builders Convention in Atlantic City.
“We had roughly 28,000 building permits pulled, which is the key indicator of new volume in housing starts,” says Vallone. “The average number of permits from 1960 to 2006 was 36,000 a year, so you can see we haven’t reached our historical level of building volume yet, but we’re well on our way, and I think that in 2015 we probably will hit that 36,000 starts number, so that bodes well that we are coming out of the recession now and we’re starting to get back to normal building levels.”
Among public policy issues weighing on the building community, says Vallone, is the recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision that essentially returns disputes over affordable housing to the court system, stripping the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) of its oversight responsibilities.
“We think that the logjam has been broken now on the affordable housing issue (read about Dennis Family Homes), which has been tied up in the courts for at least 20 years now,” he says. “The builders are gearing up, the builders that have had land that have been waiting for the doors to open are getting revved up. They’re going to either be submitting plans under a town’s affordable housing element that’s been deemed compliant. Or, if the town doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do, they’re going to sue the town.”
Revisions to the International Building Code, which New Jersey has adopted, were just made for 2015, which is “moving in the direction of sustainability and energy efficiency,” says Vallone.
“Instead of telling you how you have to build a house, they’re telling you how that house has to perform from an energy standpoint,” he says. “The industry is going to have to figure out how to meet those standards, but I think it bodes well for vendors of products and services that produce more energy efficient housing.”
The New Jersey Builders Association also recognizes the significant role of multifamily development in the housing mix, Vallone says. The group started a partner organization about five years ago, called the Mixed Use Developers Association. Of the 28,000 housing starts reported in 2014, Vallone says 64 percent were for multifamily, and of those, about two-thirds were in the riverside “urban core” communities in Bergen and Hudson Counties.
You can hear our complete conversation with Vallone in an audio news report in the player below.