During the past three years, political and industry leaders in York County have touted signs of economic recovery.
They've pointed to lower unemployment, stable home sales, modest job creation in health care and professional services and higher consumer spending.
But home building often lagged behind.
That changed this summer.
"For the first time in years, I'm very optimistic," said Barry Strine, president of the York Builders Association.
U.S. home building surged in July as builders reported their highest number of jobs this year.
From June to July, building increased nearly 16 percent, the Census Bureau said Tuesday.
The local numbers haven't been tallied yet, but the county planning office is seeing more units per plan and members of the builders association are seeing more work.
"Our businesses have definitely seen a spike. There's definitely more going on with our builders," Strine said.
The association president is also the owner of Strine's Heating & Air Conditioning in Springettsbury Township.
"I'm at an advantageous position because I work on a lot of the new homes being built, and I see how many new single family homes are going up around the county," Strine said.
Looking forward: Local builders have seen an uptick during the last 30 to 45 days and expect a busy fall, he said.
The number of building plans submitted to the York County Planning Commission is a little less than last year, but the number of units per plan has increased, said Kurt Leitholf, chief municipal planner for the county.
At the end of August 2013, the county had received 152 home building plans. As of Wednesday, the county had received 140.
"It's a little behind last year's pace. Conversely, the size of plans are larger, and the number of units and square footage is larger," Leitholf said.
From the late 1990s to 2005, the county saw a boom of about 700 to 800 building plans per year.
By 2006 it had slowed to 500 to 600 plans a year.
The recession pushed it to an all-time low of 164 in 2011.
It was back up to 219 in 2012 and 225 last year.
"We think we're seeing a slow, but steady increase," Leitholf said. "Will it continue this year? Is this the new normal? We'll see."
Slower growth: Normalcy has taken on new meaning in the home building industry, Strine said.
"If we considered the boom of 2005 to be normal, we'd never see normal again," he said.
Credit was much easier to attain then, Strine said.
"It was a runaway train until the recession stopped it in its tracks," he said.
Growth is slower and safer now, Strine said.
"It's not going crazy. It's a very controlled growth, and that's a good thing. I can honestly say it's been a pretty good year and I'm looking forward to 2015," he said.
—Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.