An active residential sector, climbing material costs, and an agenda for infrastructure

shape the outlook for the AEC industries

PHOENIX, AZ—International property and construction consultancy firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) has released its latest Crane IndexÒ and Quarterly Cost Report. Together, the two documents provide an eye-opening perspective on the North American construction industry in 14 key markets. Read the complete QCR report here. The Crane Index is here.

The latest quarterly cost report data show that despite the slow-down in construction, the combined effects of material price increases with challenges in maintaining the supply chain have sent costs escalating back to the familiar range of 1% per quarter (4% annualized).

In the last 12 months, construction materials prices have increased strikingly. The price of copper has almost doubled, from a low of $2.11/lb. to $4.01/lb.; aluminum has risen from $0.73/lb. in April 2020 to around $1.05/lb. in March 2021; and lumber skyrocketed to nearly $1,000/MBF in March 2021.

“Looking ahead, my expectation is that construction price pressure will increase as the year goes on due to the stimulating effects (on the construction industry) of at least the ebbing of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stimulus provided by the American Rescue Plan Act,” said Julian Anderson, FRICS, President of RLB North America. “If the Biden administration is successful in pushing through an infrastructure plan, then that should keep the momentum going for a few more years.”

Crane Index notes

  • Cities seeing an increase in cranes include Boston, Calgary, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Washington D.C.
  • Cities holding steady in their crane counts include Chicago, New York City, Portland, and Seattle
  • Cities with a decrease in cranes include Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Francisco
  • Toronto continues to be home to the majority of total cranes counted (43%), followed by Los Angeles (9%), Seattle (9%), and Washington D.C. (9%)

Quarterly Cost Report notes

  • The U.S. quarterly national average increase in construction cost is approximately 0.99%, compared to 1.82% year-over-year
  • The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has rebounded to 4.1 during the fourth quarter of 2020
  • The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) dropped to 42.6 from the previous quarter’s 47.0

Read the complete QCR report here. The Crane Index is here.

About Rider Levett Bucknall

Rider Levett Bucknall is an award-winning international firm known for providing project management, construction cost consulting, and related property and construction advisory services—at all stages of the design and construction process. The firm was voted #1 Cost Consultant in World Architecture Magazine for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Rider Levett Bucknall’s North American practice has offices in 21 cities across the North America, including Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Denver, Hilo, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Maui, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Toronto, Tucson, Waikoloa, and Washington, D.C. With more than 3,600 employees worldwide, Rider Levett Bucknall brings unparalleled value and service to its prestigious group of clients, through its robust experience and high-level expertise. The firm enjoys a professional heritage that spans over 230 years, and it continues to be a global leader in the construction industry throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania.

For more information, visit www.rlb.com, and for the latest company news and construction cost trends, follow the firm on LinkedIn and Twitter @rlbamericas.

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