A. On the heels of oil, many construction-related commodities have experienced significant declines in price over the past two years, including at times up to a 30% decrease for asphalt and No. 2 diesel, and nearly 15% decrease for iron and steel. These decreases don’t reflect construction material price trends across the board – other products such as glass, cement and construction sand, gravel and stone are experiencing modest increases in price – however on average, we remain at historically low material price levels.
That said, materials are only one component of overall construction costs. Subcontractors still have difficulty finding skilled labor, affecting wages and ultimately fueling increases in overall construction costs year over year. While we’ve become accustomed to labor shortages in our region, this lack of skilled construction labor is now prevalent throughout the U.S., and reflects an overall migration from technical education and an increase in more sophisticated projects. Work is now more complex due to sustainability measures, expanding building codes, and technology. Aging plumbers, electricians, framers and HVAC subcontractors are all in demand, without sufficient apprentices in the ranks to take over soon.