The depth of the current recession is best measured by declines in construction costs, and they have taken their biggest tumble since the Great Depression of the 1930s. McGraw-Hill Construction forecasts that the recession will tighten its grip on the nonresidential building markets next year despite the best stimulus efforts. It is forecasting the dollar value of nonresidential building starts to fall another 2% next year, following a 30% decline in 2009. Even with a predicted 32% increase in housing starts in 2010, the deteriorating nonresidential building market and double-digit unemployment will keep construction costs on a short leash in
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.