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10-24-16 original posted
1-27-17 updated index plot and tables
Construction Cost Indices come in many types: Final cost by specific building type; Final cost composite of buildings but still all within one major building sector; Final cost but across several major building sectors (ex., residential and nonresidential buildings); Input prices to subcontractors; Producer prices and Select market basket indices.
Residential, Nonresidential Buildings and Non-building Infrastructure Indices developed by Construction Analytics, (in BOLD CAPS), are sector specific selling price composite indices. These three indices represent whole building final cost and are plotted below and also plotted in the attached Midyear report link. They represent average or weighted average of what is considered the most representative cost indicators in each major building sector. For Non-building Infrastructure, however, in most instances it is better to use a specific index to the type of work.
All actual index values have been recorded from the source and then converted to current year 2016 = 100. That puts all the indices on the same baseline and measures everything to a recent point in time.
Not all indices cover all years. For instance the PPI nonresidential buildings indices only go back to years 2004-2007, the years in which they were created.
SEE BELOW FOR LARGER IMAGE
When construction is very actively growing, total construction costs typically increase more rapidly than the net cost of labor and materials. In active markets overhead and profit margins increase in response to increased demand. When construction activity is declining, construction cost increases slow or may even turn to negative, due to reductions in overhead and profit margins, even though labor and material costs may still be increasing.
Selling Price, by definition whole building actual final cost tracks the final cost of construction, which includes, in addition to costs of labor and materials and sales/use taxes, general contractor and sub-contractor overhead and profit. Selling price indices should be used to adjust project costs over time.
quoted from that article,
R S Means Index and ENR Building Cost Index (BCI) are examples of input indices. They do not measure the output price of the final cost of buildings. They measure the input prices paid by subcontractors for a fixed market basket of labor and materials used in constructing the building. These indices do not represent final cost so won’t be as accurate as selling price indices.
Turner Actual Cost Index nonresidential buildings only, final cost of building
Rider Levett Bucknall Actual Cost Index nonresidential buildings only, final cost of building
IHS Power Plant Cost Indices specific infrastructure only, final cost indices
- IHS UCCI tracks construction of onshore, offshore, pipeline and LNG projects
- IHS DCCI tracks construction of refining and petrochemical construction projects
- IHS PCCI tracks construction of coal, gas, wind and nuclear power generation plants
Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index only specific PPI building indices reflect final cost of building. PPI cost of materials is price at producer level. The PPIs that constitute Table 9 measure changes in net selling prices for materials and supplies typically sold to the construction sector. Specific Building PPI Indices are Final Demand or Selling Price indices.
PPI BONS Other Nonresidential Structures includes water and sewer lines and structures; oil and gas pipelines; power and communication lines and structures; highway, street, and bridge construction; and airport runway, dam, dock, tunnel, and flood control construction.
National Highway Construction Cost Index (NHCCI) final cost index, specific to highway and road work only.
S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index history final cost as-sold index but includes sale of both new and existing homes, so is an indicator of price movement but should not be used solely to adjust cost of new residential construction
US Census Constant Quality (Laspeyres) Price Index SF Houses Under Construction final cost index, this index adjusts to hold the build component quality and size of a new home constant from year to year to give a more accurate comparison of real cost inflation
Beck Biannual Cost Report develops indices for only five major cities and average. The indices may be a composite of residential and nonresidential buildings. It can be used as an indicator of the direction of cost but should not be used to adjust the cost in either of these two sectors.
Mortenson Cost Index is the estimated cost of a representative nonresidential building priced in six major cities and average.
Other Indices not included here:
Consumer Price Index (CPI) issued by U.S. Gov. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services, including food, transportation, medical care, apparel, recreation, housing. This index in not related at all to construction and should never be used to adjust construction pricing.
Leland Saylor Cost Index Clear definition of this index could not be found, however detailed input appears to represent buildings and does reference subcontractor pricing. But it could not be determined if this is a selling price index.
Sierra West Construction Cost Index is identified as a selling price index but may be specific to California. This index may be a composite of several sectors. No online source of the index could be found, but it is published in Engineering News Record magazine in the quarterly cost report update.
Vermeulens Construction Cost Index can be found here. It is described as a bid price index, which is a selling price index, for Institutional/Commercial/Industrial projects. That would be a nonresidential buildings sector index. No data table is available, but a plot of the VCCI is available on the website. Some interpolation would be required to capture precise annual values from the plot. The site provides good information.
The Bureau of Reclamation Construction Cost Trends comprehensive indexes for about 30 different types of infrastructure work including dams, pipelines, transmission lines, tunnels, roads and bridges. 1984 to present.
1-27-17 – Index updated to Dec. 2016 data
Note: The original post you’ve reached here was written in Jan 2016. For the latest information follow this link to see this newest post on Inflation written 9-12-2016. Construction Cost Inflation – Midyear Report 2016
Also See Table of 25 indices 2001-2018 Construction Inflation Index Tables updated 1-27-2017
These tables and the Midyear report will be updated July-Aug. 2017.
Jan. 31, 2016
Construction inflation for buildings in 2016-2017 is quite likely to advance stronger and more rapidly than some estimators and owners have planned.
Long term construction cost inflation is normally about double consumer price inflation. Construction inflation in rapid growth years is much higher than average long-term inflation. Since 1993, long-term annual construction inflation for buildings has been 3.5%/yr., even when including the recessionary period 2007-2011. During rapid growth periods, inflation averages more than 8%/yr.
For the period 2013-2014-2015, nonresidential buildings cost indices averaged just over 4%/yr. and residential buildings cost indices average just over 6%/yr. I recommend those rates as a minimum for 2016-2017. Some locations may reach 6% to 8% inflation for nonresidential buildings but new work in other areas will remain soft holding down the overall average inflation. Budgeting should use a rate that considers how active work is in your area.
Infrastructure projects cost indices on average have declined 4% in the last three years. However, infrastructure indices are so unique that individual specific indices should be used to adjust cost of work. The FWHA highway index dropped 4% in 2013-2014 but increased 4% in 2015. The IHS power plant cost index gained 12% from 2011-2014 but then plummeted in 2015 to an eight year low. The PPI industrial structures index and the PPI other nonresidential structures index both have been relatively flat or declining for the last three years.
These infrastructure sector indices provide a good example for why a composite all-construction cost index should not be used to adjust costs of buildings. Both residential and infrastructure project indices often do not follow the same pattern as cost of nonresidential buildings.
Anticipate construction inflation of buildings during the next two years closer to the high end rapid growth rate rather than the long term average.
See more comments on Construction Inflation here
( Also See 1-31-2016 comments and chart on inflation )
Over the last 24 months work volume has increased and short-term construction inflation has increased to more than double consumer inflation. It appears construction inflation is already advancing faster than and well ahead of consumer inflation, which supports that consumer inflation is not an indication of movements or magnitude of construction inflation.
It is always important to carry the proper value for cost inflation. Whether adjusting the cost of a recently built project to predict what it might cost to build a similar project in the near future or answering a client question “What will it cost if I delay my project start by one year?”, whether you carry the proper value for inflation (which can differ every year) can make or break your estimate.
- Long term construction cost inflation is normally about double consumer price inflation (CPI).
- Since 1993 but taking out 2 years of recession (-8%), the 20-year average inflation is 4.2%.
- Average long term (30 years) construction cost inflation is 3.5% even with any/all recession years included.
- In times of rapid construction spending growth, construction inflation averages about 8%.
- Although inflation is affected by labor and material costs, a large part of the change in inflation is due to change in contractors/suppliers margins.
- When construction volume increases rapidly, margins increase rapidly.
- Construction inflation can be very different from one major sector to the other and can vary from one market to another. It can even vary considerably from one material to another.
In the 5 years of rapid growth in spending for nonresidential buildings from 2004 through 2008, nonresidential buildings cost inflation totaled 39%, or averaged ~8% per year.
In the 6 years of spending during the residential construction boom from 2000 through 2005, residential building cost inflation totaled 47%, or averaged ~8% per year.
Neither the producer price index (PPI) for construction inputs nor the CPI are good indicators of total construction cost inflation.
Some construction cost indices include only the cost changes for a market basket of labor and materials and do not include any change for margins. Those indices are not a complete analysis of construction cost inflation.
Construction cost inflation must include all changes related to labor wages, productivity, materials cost, materials availability, equipment and finally contractors margins. Margins are affected by the volume growth of new work and demand for new buildings. So be sure to verify what is included in any cost index you reference for real construction cost inflation.
For the last three years residential construction inflation has averaged 5.7% and nonresidential buildings inflation has averaged 4.2%. Nonresidential buildings cost inflation has increased for five consecutive years. Both are likely to increase next year since anticipated volume in both sectors will grow next year.
In my construction spending data set, which goes back to 1993, there were six years with greater than 9% spending growth. By far the largest spending growth years were 2004 and 2005, 11.2% and 11.5%. We are about to repeat that historic level of spending growth. I am predicting 2015 will finish with growth of 11.6% and 2016 will experience 11% growth.
(8-12-16) 2015 finished at 10.6% because 2014 was revised up. Construction spending for 2016 will probably finish closer to 8%.
I expect historic levels of growth in spending will be accompanied by inflation relative to historic high growth periods. Don’t expect long term average inflation in high growth periods. Don’t be caught short in your construction cost budgets!
Graphic updated 1-8-16
The chart shows the low and high range of various independent nonresidential buildings construction actual cost indices. In 2015, the range of estimates was from 2% to 5%. The actual inflation came in at 4%. The plotted line is my result of where inflation actually ended up. A chart for residential construction would show much different values.
( Also See 1-31-2016 comments and chart on inflation )