By CHRIS DENINA Staff Reporter Construction is heating up in the San Fernando Valley, and the overall value of that activity is growing rapidly, according to this month’s Valley Econowatch. There were 1,687 building permits issued in the Valley during September, nearly 10 percent more than for the like year-ago month. Growing even more dramatically was the aggregate value of projects permitted in September. That value, at $67.7 million, was up about 50 percent from the year-earlier period. More single-family home construction may be the cause for the rise in permits, said Alan Horwitz, audit partner in charge of the home builder segment at E & Y; Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group. “There’s an increase in new housing construction because people are more confident in the economy,” Horwitz said. “Financing rates are lower than the period a year ago, and people feel stronger about the economy and have positive feelings toward their home values going up.” This confidence has people spending more on major home improvements. “Last year, (home owners) might have been putting in a new water heater and this year they’re adding on a new room,” Horwitz said. “If you feel your home is going up in value again and you wanted to remodel your kitchen, you’d feel more confident as opposed to limiting yourself to putting in a water heater, which is a necessary repair.” The fall season may also be a factor, said Horwitz. “There’s a tendency not to start a home in December and January because of the rainy season and the holidays,” he said, explaining that there’s usually an uptick in construction activity before that off-season begins. The surge in the value of Valley projects permitted may be at least partially due to an increase in the number of income-property projects, said Horwitz, citing apartment construction as one example. The Valley’s apartment vacancy rate fell to 8.0 percent in September, from 8.5 percent in the previous month and 9.5 percent a year ago. With more people renting, there’s a greater demand for apartment units, which has prompted construction of new units, Horwitz said. “The Valley is one of the few areas left in L.A. County where there is land left to build. If developers want to build something in West Los Angeles, they have to tear something down,” Horwitz said.