House builders in Red Deer are hammering together an impressive year. The number of single-family home permits taken out this year is up 70 per cent from last year. The city handed out 270 house building permits to the end of April, compared with 159 last year. That’s $29.3 million worth of permits compared with $17.8 million. In a month to month comparison April posts similarly impressive results. There were 82 permits worth $9.3 million handed out compared with 51 worth $6.1 million. Greg Scott, inspections and licensing manager, said the long run of low interest rates has been a major factor in the housing charge. “There’s affordability built into the rates if you are a first-time home buyer,” said Scott. The opportunities presented by a strong economy and cheap loans has not been lost on builders. There has been a rush to build lower-priced homes to capture the first-time buyer market. Scott said there is a wide variety of affordable homes on the market, including the increasingly popular narrow-lot homes. “I think that’s part of it.” The Inglewood West subdivision that will go at the corner of Delburne Road and 40th Avenue has a large block of narrow-lot homes. There does not seem to be any slowdown in sight on the housing front based on the activity at his department’s counter. Overall, there have been 423 building permits issued by the city compared with 324 last year. The value of those is $63.3 million compared with $58.9 million. April saw 121 permits issued compared with 101 last year. But the value was way down — $12.6 million last month compared with $25 million a year ago. Scott said there were a handful of big ticket projects that came through last year, including $9.8 million for three separate condominiums. Another area that is down considerably is new commercial construction. Last April there were 10 permits worth $7.8 million issued. Last month, none were issued. Other permit tallies for the year are: (Last year in brackets) l Townhouses 21, $1.8 million; (44, $4.7 million) lDuplexes, triplexes 36, $3.7 million; (10, $1.1 million) lCommercial renovations 48, $5.1 million; (56, $5.4 million) l New industrial two, $2 million; (seven, $3.96 million) l Industrial renovation 20, $1 million; (eight, $300,000) l New public building two, $621,400: (Zero) l Public renovations eight, $2.2 million; (three, $2.1 million) l New apartments three, $15.8 million; (three, $9.8 million)