Building in the Bakken -- Maxing Out or More to Come? - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Building in the Bakken -- Maxing Out or More to Come?

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Vern Whitten Photography Vern Whitten Photography

What's the status of construction opportunities in the Williston Basin -- tapped out or tip of the iceberg?

"Our phone doesn't stop ringing," says Michelle Buntin, Broker/Owner, Watford City Realty.

It's the billion dollar boom.  Though not oil or natural gas, this boom, too, is rising out of the ground.  But it's changing.  In Watford City --

"We're starting to get away from the phases of 'come build anything and it will work.'  We're starting now to really see people come in and wanting to put together nice communities," says Seth Sampson, Assistant Planner, Watford City.

"We're at a different game at this stage, where there's not a lot of oil companies moving in and saying, 'we're putting employees in housing.'  It is the individuals coming in," says Buntin.

But the biggest issue is still keeping pace.

"We need to get our roads caught up -- water, sewer.  It's all at capacity and infrastructure is definitely the key word in Watford," says Sampson.

Buntin says they expected more homes to come out of the ground for 2014.  "Our biggest surprise for us is we don't have the builders."

Attracting out of state contractors can be difficult.  It all comes back to housing, even in Williston.  "If you come in for a year long or two year long construction project, they're not going to buy a house.  And the apartments are either exhausted or they're very expensive," says Marc Mellmer, Construction Manager, J.E. Dunn Construction, Williston.  But there, contractors say infrastructure is going in, and more developments to handle housing impacts are going up.  "The local contractors have really been a huge help to us."

While professionals in both cities warn companies and individuals against making your way up without rhyme or reason, the consensus is there's still great opportunity.  Watford City's Sampson says, "you're going to get your return right away.  We need the housing and it's a hot place to be right now."

Today in Bismarck construction and real estate development players come together at the Bakken Construction Summit to explore opportunities in what they're calling a billion dollar construction market.  According to sponsors, Williston, Dickinson and Minot recorded $470 million, $408 million and $247 million in building permit valuation in 2012, totaling over one billion.

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