For the first time in more than three years, building permits for single family homes have topped 30 in one quarter in Farmington. And though it's still too early to say the housing market is turning around, city officials are cautiously optimistic it may start to soon.

In the third quarter of 2009 -- July 1 through Sept. 30 -- the city of Farmington issued 34 single-family building permits. That is the most single-family permits issued since the first quarter of 2006, when 38 such permits were issued. In the final three months of 2008, the city issued 34 building permits were issued, but only eight of those were for single family homes. The rest, said Farmington building official Ken Lewis, were for multi-family homes.

Since the fourth quarter began Oct. 1, another eight or nine permits have been issued. The activity is encouraging, Lewis said.

"It looks like (housing construction) is going to continue, maybe not as much as it was before, but things are turning around a little bit," he said.

Most of the new houses are under construction in existing developments -- ones that were planned before the housing market took a nosedive. Construction is picking up in the Mystic Meadows and Parkview Ponds developments off of 195th Street between Hwy. 3 and Akin Road, as well as Meadow Creek on the west side of 195th Street. New homes are also being completed in Executive Estates, east of Hwy. 3.

While the community's housing market came to a stall, a few members of the building inspections staff were laid off. For a while, Lewis said, most of the inspections that were being done were for remodeling projects, rather than new construction. Now that the housing market seems to be picking up, inspections staff is staying busy.

"We're starting to pick up on our inspections. You can tell that by our schedule. Things are picking up, housing is picking up," Lewis said. "I think we'll be a little bit better than last year. We definitely hit our budget goal for this year."

City officials seem so confident the market is starting to turn, they have proposed adding $50,000 to the city's 2010 budget as revenue from building permit fees.

Lewis said contractors in Farmington are pushing to have more work done by Dec. 1, 2009, which is the deadline for an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers. That tax credit is offered as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Still, he expects the trend will continue into the next year.

"There's going to be some winter buildings yet, according to the contractors, which is a good sign," he said.