Modernization: Carpe Diem

March 5, 2009
Former Editor Jana J. Madsen talks about how what little you do have in the budget for repairs, upgrades, and renovations can be stretched a little further these days

If you’re among the 82 percent of Buildings subscribers who reported involvement in modernization projects during our recent 2009 Modernization and New Construction Trends in the Buildings Market survey, you’re in luck. While financing and capital are hard to come by, what little you do have in the budget for repairs, upgrades, and renovations can be stretched a little further these days. As Andrew Bohutinsky and Carlos Galvez reported in What Lies Ahead for Building Materials and Products, an article published in our January 2009 issue, weakened demand for commodities, such as oil, gas, and metals, has driven the cost of building materials down. Steel prices have dropped, and cement prices are also weakening. According to Reed Construction Data’s report in late January, construction material prices dropped 5.2 percent in December. While these prices were still 2.9-percent above the year prior, the research organization expects to report further declines for January and February. 

Staff Reporter Melissa Castro summed it up well in the Feb. 13 Washington Business Journal article, titled Building materials cost down dramatically, when she wrote, "Just as fuel prices have fallen from summertime highs, costs for building materials – from aluminum to uranium – also have declined dramatically, a boon for architects and their clients in search of Class-A office touches at Class-B prices." This is good news for those of you with projects in the pipeline – and many of you told us that you do. According to our survey findings, the average subscriber has eight separate modernization projects and four new construction projects under way.

There’s a real opportunity with weak demand and lower material costs to get more bang for your buck. Even though the economic outlook is grim, it seems that there’s no better time to seize the day when it comes to modernization.

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