National construction economy not reflective of East Texas

Drywall contractor Doug Hartfield says work has slowed down in recent months
Drywall contractor Doug Hartfield says work has slowed down in recent months
Mike Hineman, owner of Dream Homes in Lufkin.
Mike Hineman, owner of Dream Homes in Lufkin.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texas homebuilders want people to stop listening to the national reports about construction jobs and new building rates.

That's because Texas, including our region, stands strong in both areas right now.

"We've kind of had to fight the media --the home building industry -- as far as what's actually going on in Texas," said Mike Hineman, owner of Dream Homes in Lufkin.

What's really going on here, Hineman says, is construction.

However, recent national job reports show construction workers are suffering from a 16% jobless rate.

Hineman says local builders were sheltered from the widespread economic downturn.

"We slowed down like anyone else in the nation, but not near to the extent they did. We still had people moving in so we still had work," Hineman said.

Drywall contractor Doug Hartfield works on new homes.

"I worked for two to three builders and they all slowed down during the same time and they're all now starting to pick back up," said Hartfield.

The past six months haven't always been easy.

"It hurts your finances and gets you behind on bills. You have to try to do other stuff to make money," said Hartfield.

About four new homes in central Lufkin were recently completed.

Builders calls these homes "spec homes." They're building them because they speculate they will sell - not because they already have a buyer.

The work is helping Hartfield and other sheet rockers pay bills.

Hineman says it's never been a better time to build.

"This is the best time ever. The interest rates are incredibly low. They're not going to get any lower," Hineman said.

At least, if you're doing it in the Lone Star State.

Hineman says some people are scared of building new homes after hearing the national reports, but he says don't be.

Unlike other states, such as California and Florida, we didn't see a bubble; our prices stayed steady.

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