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Home building is booming, especially in Hancock County

In the nine-county area, single-family building permits were up 20% last year over 2020.

MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. — Central Indiana is building and people are buying.

Many home builders are seeing record growth right now.

In the nine-county area, single-family building permits were up 20% last year over 2020. New home construction experienced its strongest year for permits since 2005.

According to the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis, eight of nine local counties - all except Marion - saw single-family home permits increase year over year.

"As this market has shown, the supply is not there in existing resale homes," explained home builder Sara Joyner of Joyner Homes. "On top of that, people are learning if we're going to spend more time at home, I want what I want and I can't necessarily get that in a resale home and, honestly, renovation has become very expensive. It's very difficult to find a subcontractor to the trades to do it, so that's not really an option either. So if you can't find the thing you want in a resale home, you're going to build a new home."

Perhaps the hottest market right now to build that new home? Hancock County.

Credit: WTHR
Home building is booming across central Indiana, especially in Hancock County.

New subdivisions are booming, especially in Fortville and McCordsville. Joyner said it's her best year in business yet. She and her husband have been home builders since 2006.

"We're busy! We are busy. For 2021, we saw numbers higher than we've ever seen," she said.

Overall, according to BAGI, Hancock County had a 47% increase in permits year-over-year, the highest surge of any local county.

Permits were up 159% in December alone.

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Joyner believes people are discovering a hidden gem that may not be so hidden anymore.

"I can be downtown Indianapolis in 25 minutes with very little traffic if I need to be. But yet, you know, we have great schools, good health care. It's just a good place to live," Joyner said. "People are really nice here and I think people are finding that and realizing that."

The surge in new home construction does come with challenges, though. For example, Hancock County has to make sure all those new people and their property stay protected.

So public safety is growing, too.

Vernon Township is now full-time, with career firefighters, after a merger of volunteer departments in McCordsville and Fortville.

Credit: WTHR
The Vernon Township Fire Department has been forced to grow quickly to keep up with the number of new homes being built in Hancock County.

Through a tax levy after forming the new department, they've had to grow relatively quickly, purchasing new equipment and getting more firefighters just in the last two years.

The run load, Vernon Township Fire Chief Chad Abel said, is way up.

So they have to keep up.

"We saw a 400-run increase in just one year just because of the growth and it's not slowing down," Abel explained.

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They've recently added an ambulance, two fire engines, a full-time fire inspector and a paramedic in-house. The department also even just bought a modular home in November, where crews can sleep, until a new station goes up in McCordsville.

They also have to count on mutual aid and be conservative with the money they do have, as the run load increases.

"So we've done a lot of things to try to be as robust as we can with the dollars we have, but at the end of the day, we are going to have to have more responders working shift," Abel said.

That will eventually include new firefighters, Abel said, plus the department needs new air packs, for example. Their current equipment is used, from the Fishers Fire Department, and it's at least a decade old and parts for repairs are getting tough to find.

But Abel said the community has been supportive in supporting expanding public safety's needs, as the neighborhoods they serve continue to build and grow.

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