New York City contractors adding 5% to 10% to construction costs due to trade war

Tariffs on steel, aluminum, and other materials swell budgets.

March 21, 2019 |

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The U.S. trade war with China is having a significant impact on the cost of building materials, as reported in a new study by Turner & Townsend.

New York City building contractors are adding between 5% to 10% onto the total construction costs due to tariffs on the prices of steel, aluminum, and other materials, according to the construction consulting firm. A cost study of a completed 90-story building at the Hudson Yards development showed that if the project was being built now, the cost of the core and shell construction alone would have increased by up to $150 million due to tariffs that are driving price increases on materials.

The company calculates that the cost difference of constructing some supertall buildings in New York could be up to $100 million for buildings with an overall cost of $1-1.5 billion. 

Due to increased demand for domestic steel and recent reductions in production of steel made in China, the cost of domestic steel has risen an average of 22.4% over the last year. Turner & Townsend is warning owners that they should add up to a minimum of a 5% cost contingency on the total value of their core and shell steel framed buildings.

Owners should also consider early buyout packages and direct purchase of materials to lock in pricing on items such as steel and curtain wall as early as possible, the firm says.

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