Prices for diesel fuel, structural steel, lumber and gypsum-wallboard products started to stir during the first quarter, but most increases were coming off dismal lows in 2009 and were not strong enough to break the stranglehold the recession has on construction costs. Eleven of 15 major industry cost indexes tracked by ENR showed costs falling below a year ago. These drops included year-to-year declines of 5.8% for warehouse construction, 4.7% for office buildings and 1.7% for school construction, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept.’s January cost indexes. The agency also reported in January another 3.6% decline in homebuilding costs during
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.