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Global forces push construction prices higher

Market Data

Global forces push construction prices higher

Consigli’s latest forecast predicts high single-digit increases for this year.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | April 29, 2022
Consigli's April forecast for lead times and prices on key items
Electrical and mechanical equipment and materials have been vulnerable to extended shipping delays and price instability. Image: Consigli Construction

The war in Ukraine, global port congestion, and the persistent spread of COVID variants will conspire to raise prices on equipment and key building products by 7-9 percent this year, according to the general contractor Consigli’s latest market update, which it released a few days ago.

Authors Peter Capone and Jared Lachapelle, Consigli’s director of construction and vice president of preconstruction, respectively, wrote that while the nonresidential construction industry continues to be resilient, it can’t completely alleviate forces that are reducing or delaying the supply of raw materials and finished goods.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reduced the supply of manufacturing materials such as aluminum and copper, and is putting a strain on production and delivery across Europe. Meanwhile shipping congestion “is showing little sign of improvement” worldwide, especially at ports in Asia.

Other factors contributing to rising construction prices include spikes in fuel costs, and wage increases that are jacking up labor costs. “Acquiring workforce, [in] the Northeast in particular, remains an area of concern,” the authors state. Union and non-union subcontractors “are booking up to capacity for 2022,” and are already focused on next year and beyond.

Electrical equipment and hardware, and roofing materials, are stalled in long lead times. As a result, price inflation for these products is expected to be double digit this year.

Consigli is also keeping an eye on a few things that could affect prices, such as contract negotiations with the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union that are scheduled for this July and will impact 22,000 workers at 79 ports.

The federal infrastructure bill, as it rolls out, will place more stress on an already tight labor market. Consigli notes that half of its larger subcontractors have secured 85 percent of their backlog for this year, and are “quickly filling” their projected backlog for 2023.   

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