La Crosse area builders see increase in new-home construction

LA CROSSE, Wis. - After climbing for eight straight months, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index shows builder confidence stalled at the beginning of the year.

But it may not reflect the attitude of new-home builders in the La Crosse area.

When the housing market crashed in 2008, many new home construction companies shifted resources to do more remodeling, but now, that trend is changing.

Local builders say they're seeing an increase in demand for new-home construction.

They say there's an easy explanation for why a recent housing market index says after eight consecutive months of growth, builder confidence has leveled out.

Builders say the winter months are a normal time for a slump in business.


"It's still a seasonal thing. It's going to effect those numbers, but even with that, even with the planing off there's still been a .7 percent increase in new home start-ups," said Shawn Anderson with Masters Construction Group.

While some question if the improving housing market will lead to another housing bubble burst, local builders say they are trying to learn from the past to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"A lot of builders had overbuilt. Too much speculation when things were really good and a lot of builders, the builders that are still around, have stayed pretty lean. You try to become more efficient," said Jon Olson, owner of Olson Construction.

Builders say another reason new-home construction is picking up again is because many of the foreclosed homes that were for sale when the housing market crashed have been bought.

That means people are turning to building rather than trying to snatch up a foreclosure.

The Greater La Crosse Home and Builders show brings out about 100 exhibitors to the La Crosse Center.

But they're not all construction companies.

The expo's organizer, Bill Jackson, says there's a wide range of companies including air conditioning, concrete and even pool companies.   

He says it's a great way to make sure you're getting accurate information on the projects you're working on.

"They're all respected professional in their respective fields so the public can come here and feel comfortable dealing with the exhibitors and talking with them because they all know their business. There are a couple long-term companies here," said Jackson.

The Expo runs March 22-24.

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