For most of the Southeast region, contractors should see an increasing set of business opportunities in 2012, according to the latest forecast projections from McGraw-Hill Construction, publisher of Engineering News-Record. The company predicts the value of new 2012 construction contracts will improve in three of the four ENR Southeast states, with North Carolina the lone negative.
While the volume of new contracts may pick up in the coming year, however, industry officials across the region are generally predicting more of the same: flat markets overall, with pockets of positive activity.
Following is a state-by-state synopsis of McGraw-Hill Construction's 2012 projections for the Southeast, along with perspective from industry officials.
Florida: Finally, Upturn Ahead? Last year wasn’t the year for Florida's recovery that some thought it would be. The pace of new contracts lagged considerably in the beginning of the year, but the state recorded positive gains in the value of new construction contracts in four of the last five months of the year, according to McGraw-Hill.
For 2012, the company's economists are predicting that late 2011 momentum will carry over, resulting in a 9 percent overall gain in new contracts. Such a gain would result in an overall total of $24.3 billion in new Florida contracts, up from the $22.2 billion currently estimated to have moved forward in 2011.
Economists expect both building sectors—residential and nonresidential—to improve. An improvement in the housing category would mark the second year of expansion. Residential contracts increased by 10 percent in 2011 and delivered roughly $9.6 billion worth of work. The coming year should see another jump, of about 13 percent, McGraw-Hill says.
An uptick in the nonresidential sector, meanwhile, would be a welcome turnaround for Southeast contractors, who saw this market retrench by 17 percent in 2011, for a $5.8-billion total. For 2012, McGraw-Hill expects a 22 percent improvement.
Meanwhile, the nonbuilding category, which includes infrastructure contracts, will decline again, by 6 percent, from the $6.9-billion total for 2011—itself a 24 percent drop from 2010.
Dyga stated by e-mail that he sees some "significant projects" coming out for bids, and adds that, "It appears more of the projects that are being bid are actually starting."
Miami is the South Florida hot spot for now, he adds. "Miami-Dade definitely holds more potential and has more work than any of the tri-county South Florida areas," he stated, referring to Broward and Palm Beach counties.Across the state, the results could be mixed. Currently, South Florida contractors are starting to feel the heat again, with numerous builders reporting a significant shift in bidding activity. Peter Dyga, president and CEO of the Florida East Coast Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Coconut Creek, sees a rising market but continuing hot competition for jobs.