Index: Construction costs dip in 1Q

Construction costs have decreased 13 percent since their peak at the end of 2008.

Construction costs for non-residential projects continue to decline in the United States, though not as sharply as they did last year, according to a widely used gauge in the industry.

The Turner Building Cost Index declined 0.5 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2009, according to Turner Construction Co.

The index was down 7.7 percent compared to the first quarter of 2009.

“The reduced volume of work remains the driving force behind the market’s downward pressure on costs in the non-residential building construction sector,” Turner vice president Karl Almstead said.

Construction costs have decreased 13 percent since their peak at the end of 2008.

“While there are signs of recovery in the economy, the construction industry trails the broader economy due to the time required for project planning and design,” Almstead said. “As the economic recovery strengthens, increased activity in project planning will provide an indication that the rebound in the construction industry is underway.”

Based in New York City, Turner Construction has released a construction cost forecast for more than 80 years.

The report follows the January release of the Producer Price Index conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. The index, which gauges nonresidential building costs, including materials costs, overhead and profit, fell between 2.4 percent and 4.3 percent for 2009, depending on the type of building. Some of the key prices declines were for diesel fuel (down 5 percent in December) and steel mill products (down 1.3 percent), according to the AGC, which has a Milwaukee-area chapter.