A recent survey of more than 200 subcontractors and suppliers in the Northeast found that respondents have been prefabricating 20% more than they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. And 71% said that they had seen an increase in requests for design-assist proposals, a strong sign that speed-to-market is a priority.
Consigli Construction’s Market Outlook Report for the first and second quarters of 2021 states that the pandemic has motivated subs and vendors to turn to technology in their shops and field processes. The survey’s respondents are also more receptive to cost-saving material management software, tool upgrades, and robotics that improve efficiency and give subs the flexibility they need to manage on-site workforces at a time when skilled labor is in short supply in some markets.
While 72% of the survey’s respondents say they aren’t concerned about staffing their projects this year, Consigli suggests they need to monitor their workforce resources for 2022, based on the amount of work in the pipeline.
PRICING AND SUPPLY ARE ISSUES FOR SEVERAL PRODUCT
The Market Outlook expects copper and steel to manifest the greatest risk for price inflation. Chart: Consigli Construction
The Market Outlook Report also looks at materials price inflation in several product categories (see chart). Metal studs, copper, and PVC are the materials that the report expects to show the greatest price increases in the first half of the year. The report also suggests that lumber—whose pricing had jumped by 73% since February 2020—could be stabilizing, depending on residential demand.
(The Commerce Department reported last week that housing starts had surged to a nearly 15-year high in March.)
Consigli recommends that subs keep a close eye on high-risk materials, and lock in prices as soon as possible to avoid exposure to inflation. Subs should also watch for supply-chain disruptions, especially for products coming from overseas like flooring and cabinetry. Where possible, have access to alternate materials and delivery options.