Although ENR’s cost indexes measure the costs of non-residential buildings, the downturn in the housing market still had a major impact on index movement. During this quarter, lumber prices in the indexes slipped another 0.8% after dropping 27% over the previous five years. Falling lumber prices had been offset by surging steel prices in 2008. However, steel prices were rolled back in 2009 and are just now firming, but with an uncertain future.
As a result, the Building Cost Index (BCI) rose 0.8% this quarter, but the year-to-year escalation in March was just 0.9%, down from 7.3% in 2008 and 4.3% in 2009. The Construction Cost Index (CCI) is less affected by these swings in prices.