How we did it...

The Business Record analyzed data from 12 cities in the Des Moines area: Ankeny, Altoona, Clive, Des Moines, Grimes, Indianola, Johnston, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee and West Des Moines.

We looked at:

Building permit statistics by city from 2007 to 2012, which are compiled and kept by Creighton Cox, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines. The statistics included the number of single-family home permits and multifamily residential permits and the total valuations for those projects. 

Commercial building permits, both the number of permits and the value of the construction for 2007 and 2012,  were provided by the cities.

Builders’ costs for a 2,500-square-foot two-story home in a new subdivision were provided by city officials. The dimensions given to them were: 1,350 square feet on the first floor and 800 square feet upstairs;  900 square feet of finished space and 450 square feet of unfinished space in the basement; a 700-square-foot three-car attached garage; a 10-foot-by-10-foot deck, 5-foot-by-5-foot front landing and one fireplace.  City officials were asked to include any costs for mechanical work, sewer and water hookups, or special district charges, as well as the fees for a sidewalk and driveway. They were not to add any development fees. 

We also asked cities about any tax abatement or economic development programs they have. 

The estimated population growth of the cities, a percentage comparison of their population according to the 2010 census and the Census Bureau’s 2012 estimated population, was taken from the Census Bureau’s online Quick Facts.