Packed In: “We are wasting time”: permit delays set back homebuilders by several months

SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane needs more housing, but the pandemic continues to weigh on the housing market. Builders want to finish more homes, but heaps of paperwork are delaying the process.

Ahead of COVID, Jim Warner, owner of Solid Structures, said he could pass the permits in about two weeks. Now he could wait up to 16 weeks before starting. These delays hurt people like Ginger Schutt who just want to return to the city she loves.

“Something is always pushing us back,” she said. “We waste time with our grandchildren.

She comes from the Northwest Interior but now lives in Florida. She can’t wait to be closer to her 17 grandchildren but begins to lose hope.

“It’s a little frustrating, and it’s kind of like it’s going to be impossible to back down?” she asked.

She said she was getting paid because there weren’t enough houses for everyone. Builders like Warner want to put more homes on the market, but he’s waiting longer than he’d like.

“We hope to get a permit within 8, 12, 16 weeks,” he said.

This complicates the process as he cannot hire contractors or plan projects in general. It also means that the end product will cost buyers more, as projects take longer to complete.

“It’s an expense until you close this project,” Warner added.

The city said it was seeing a record number of permits withdrawn, but lacked the resources to process them quickly enough.

“The permits are accelerating somewhat. It’s going to take more staff to do it, ”said Lori Kinnear, District Two City Council Member.

Everyone is just hoping that the process will speed up over time so that people can return home and more families do not have to leave.

“There are still people who get married and have children who need a place to live,” said Schutt. “They have to rethink, should I stay there or leave their families?”

“I have a daughter who is going to graduate from Gonzaga. Where is she going to live? Warner asked.

Builders aren’t just struggling with authorization delays. Employee shortages and rising material costs are also affecting trade.

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RELATED: Packed In: ‘Would Love To Stay’: Houses Under Construction Lead Longtime Families To Leave Spokane

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