BISMARCK, N.D. - With housing costs rising in the area, residents are realizing the benefits of building in Mandan.

Chelsea Gleich of the Bismarck-Mandan Homebuilders Association said homebuilders showcased more Mandan homes in the association’s Parade of Homes than ever before.

To date, 556 permits for single-family homes have been granted in Bismarck in 2013. Mandan issued 145 single-family permits. From 2011-12, single-family permits increased 1 percent in Bismarck compared to 3 percent in Mandan. From 2009-10, single-family permits increased almost 2 percent in Bismarck compared to 1.5 percent in Mandan.

“I think the price reached a point,” said Jason Frank, owner of Diversity Homes.

Frank said because land prices have continued to rise over the last two to three years and there are more requirements for homes built in certain neighborhoods, building in Bismarck has become so expensive that more people are looking to Mandan for a lower cost option.

Frank said developers tend not to put requirements on home size or other aesthetic elements, like brick, in Mandan like they do in Bismarck. For those who don’t need a bigger house or want to cut costs by not adding extras, that is a perk and increases savings.

If a customer has $250,000 to spend and wants a split level home with a finished basement and a three-car garage, it’s nearly impossible to build it in Bismarck, Frank said.

“I’m sorry, those days are gone,” he said.

Frank said he is now spending $60,000 for a lot that used to cost $30,000. He said for $100,000, a builder can buy three to four lots in Mandan but not be able to afford two in Bismarck.

Greg Meidinger, office manager for Diversity Homes, said that a 1,500-square-foot house in Mandan costs $35,000 less just because of the difference in lot prices. By building in Mandan, homeowners can get a better house for their money.

“For the price, you can’t beat it,” Frank said. He added the reason for the price difference is “just because of the ZIP code.”

Parker Pladson, co-owner of Venture Building Co., said he and his business partner, Chad Glasser, recently moved their homebuilding business from Dickinson to Bismarck. He said many of his customers who grew up in Bismarck want to live in Bismarck and those who grew up in Mandan want to live in Mandan.

Even those born and raised in Bismarck are now giving Mandan a chance, though, because they may not be able to build the home they want in their price range in Bismarck anymore, Frank said.

With a lot of people, like Pladson himself, moving into the area, the lower cost of living in Mandan drives new residents to build over there. For them, it “doesn’t mean anything to drive across the river,” Pladson said.

“If a house costs $20,000 less, people drive across the river,” he said.

Frank said another benefit to Mandan is, more recently, lots have been easier to come by than in Bismarck. He said he expects more lots to become available in Bismarck next year, which may drive down prices. The problem is input costs are higher than ever for roads and sewer and until those go down, lot prices will still be high.

In Mandan, City Administrator Jim Neubauer and building official Doug Lalim said the south and northwest ends of town have grown more due to availability. To the west, there are more terrain issues hindering development, but Neubauer said property has changed hands in the areas, which may lead to building.

In addition to single-family homes, Neubauer said there has been a shift to apartments as well.

“We haven’t seen many apartment units built in Mandan for many years,” he said.

In 2013 to date, seven permits have been issued for apartments in Mandan with a total of 303 units. The Comfort Inn near Mandan’s new Wal-Mart is the town’s most recent hotel since the early ’80s.

Neubauer said the Mandan City Commission encouraged this by granting two-year tax exemptions to developers of apartments with 24 units or more. He said the apartments built filled up immediately or during construction.

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