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Housing Starts Are Up, But Availability Of Trade Builders Down

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Tony Mazzacano, a carpenter, is keeping busy these days. (CBS)

Tony Mazzacano, a carpenter, is keeping busy these days. (CBS)

Ed Curran Ed Curran
Ed Curran serves as a meteorologist for CBS 2 Chicago. Curran, a...
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(CBS) — Construction of single-family homes is up.

But CBS 2’s Ed Curran tells us about a problem that’s holding builders back.

It’s a housing boom in Bolingbrook, with about 50 new homes sold in this subdivision this year.

“Now that we’re up and selling homes, which is great, we don’t have the trades to build them,” says Ray Blankenship of K. Hovnanian homes.

He says they can’t build houses fast enough because they can’t find enough people to build them. They need carpenters, electricians, plumbers and HVAC and concrete workers.

For carpenters like Tony Mazzacano, it’s been a busy year.

“Last year, it started picking up a little bit and this year has been just like it was five or six years ago,” he says.

A carpenter for 17 years, Tony says a lot of workers got out of the business during hard times, and they won’t be back.

“I think the guys who left are pretty much comfortable where they are right now, readjusted and everything. I think it’s hard for them to start over again,” he says.

Until new workers enter the trades, K. Hovnanian is starting one or two homes every week, instead of two or three. And a new home can take a month longer to finish.

It’s one of the growing pains of an improved economy.

One indication this building boom will continue: Permits for new construction hit a five-year high last month.

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