Total construction starts through the first 10 months of this year are down 3% from the same period in 2009, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. A 12% decline in the nonresidential building markets and a 2% decline in heavy and highway work offset a modest 8% increase in homebuilding. The heavy and highway markets received a big boost in October with the start of five wind-power projects located in five different states and totaling $1.57 billion. The non-residential building market faced a setback in October when office-building starts declined 47% from the previous month, while the manufacturing plant category declined 60%
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.