LIBERTY TWP, Ohio - Mike Powell navigates a new home looking for trouble.
"I make sure they're hanging everything correctly," he said while inspecting a home under construction on Manchester Court in Liberty Township. "(I) make sure all the insulation's up where it's supposed to be."
He's not finding much wrong.
"Looking pretty good," he said.
Powell is the job supervisor for John Henry Homes. These days, he doesn't get much down time.
"Busy, yes," he said. "Definitely busier this year than last year."
That's because area new home construction is on the upswing.
"New home construction has been going great," said Josh Blatt, president of John Henry Homes, and Powell's boss. "Last year was really the best year in about 5 years... We had our best year, we were up over 10 percent last year."
In four counties of southwest Ohio, single family home permits were up 4.4 percent last year compared to 2011, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.
Warren County builders hammered the most nails with 532 permits. Butler County followed with 394. Clermont and Hamilton counties weren't far behind with 348 and 326 permits respectively.
In Northern Kentucky, together the counties of Boone, Campbell, Kenton, Grant, Carrollton, Gallatin,Mason and Owen issued 686 single family building permits, up from 643 in 2011.
Dearborn County, Ind. went from 36 in 2011 to 44 new permits in 2012.
For Blatt, the future is looking good.
"Last year, we sold 40 homes," he said. "This year we expect to sell somewhere between 50 and 60 homes."
Builders say the growth is a combination of pent up demand, growing consumer confidence, sweetened with record low interest rates.
"We're seeing a lot of positive trends in the marketplace," Blatt said.
Still, with all that optimism he says to avoid a repeat of 2007's crash, it's important to remember the financial ashes from wince they arose.
"I think everybody in the process is much more responsible than they were 6 years ago," he said. "So, I would say it's unlikely, but never say never."
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