Published: Sep 01, 2010 11:58 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 01, 2010 4:57 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Permits for new building dropped in some key categories in August in Lee Co.   One builder is blaming the oil disaster in the Gulf for frightening potential buyers from completing their contracts for homes here.

"The end of  April, everything just went quiet.  People stopped making decisions on buying or building a home here.   Many feared the beaches were soaked in oil, especially the Europeans believed that,"  said Bob Knight, Vice-president of Paul Homes in Cape Coral.    "People cancelled contracts, based on what they heard about oil on the beaches.   That oil spill really wrecked the fragile recovery, and sent us right back into a recession."

Lee Co. released permit numbers for August.   Builders pulled only 17 single-family home permits, compared to 33 in July and 34 in Aug. of    '09.     Builders pulled no permits for multi-family homes in August, compared to 28 in July and 10 in Aug. of  '09.   Commercial permits went up slightly, compared to July.

Still, it adds up to discouraging news for the battered construction industry.   Mike Scullen told WINK News, he is giving up on construction.   He used to work as a window installer.   But he's been jobless for more than 2 years, and says he is looking to go into sales.   He says he is about to become homeless, because there is no work.

David Vieira agrees.   He too used to make a good living in the building trades.  Now, nothing.

"I do not have any hope for construction.   I have to get into another field," said Vieira.

Bob Knight says, the coming visitor  season should tell a lot about the local economy.  "We will know if we are on the road to recovery, or still slogging through the mud," said Knight.