Like an ark perched on a high place, this large barn going up near the corner of Twin Mountain Lake Road and the Talking Rock Road, frames a welcome sight: raw 2x4s of new construction bristling up from a fresh-poured foundation. Carpenter Bradley Mealer, of Timber Ridge Construction, stands at left.
"If you build it, good times will come." There was no audible voice, but witnessing fresh lumber stood up on a high place, the sense of that promise was hard to miss. Despite much rain in recent weeks, workmen with Timber Ridge Construction have persisted in raising up a new barn just off the Talking Rock Road north of Jasper.
The new horse barn (1,728 enclosed square feet with wing sheds at both sides) goes up at 34 Twin Mountain Lake Road on land owned by Richard and Louise Naylor. Builder Jeff Lacey, owner of the construction company handling the project, said the finished barn will sport a metal roof, multiple horse stalls, board and batten walls.
Though just a barn, its construction has ginned much attention, Lacey said. New building sites remain a rare sight in the county since arrival of the housing slump about four years ago. Raw framework standing plumb in evidence of fresh endeavor with roof trusses stacked chest high, waiting to be craned into place, composes an inspiring vision.
"Even the building inspectors seem tickled to see this going on," Lacey said. "We've had everybody in the world stopping, wanting to help. We're blessed to be busy and have work."
Based from Fairmount, Lacey's company builds in Gordon, Bartow and Pickens counties with much of its work around Calhoun. He said he has managed to stay steadily busy despite the economic whoas on construction for a while.
"We've really been blessed to have stayed at it," Lacey said. He has done more than home construction to stay afloat. He once hammered together an ark for a church in Adairsville, Lacey testified.
But believe it or not, new home starts actually marked an uptick in Pickens County during 2011.
"We had a total of 37 new home permits last year, up from 27 the year before," said Pickens County Director of Planning and Development Joey Low. An engineer, Low is charged with approving construction plans for every building permit application made to the county.
True, 37 new house starts is well off of the number the county saw in boom times. But who is to say the noted upturn doesn't prophesy improvement in the local economy?
"It's not a huge increase, but it is an increase," Low said. "We've been seeing the number steadily go down, but they did at least go up this year. I'm excited to see anything building in this day and time. We'd like it to be a little more."
Lacey said he expects to complete the barn project for the Naylors within 30 days, given some cooperation from the weather. He was warring mud the week we spoke.
He started his company in 2005, Lacey said. Things were good for a couple years before hard times hit, he said. But standing on a construction site, even a muddy one, it wasn't hard to believe good times could return.
"I believe they will," Lacey said.