REPORT: Rider Levett Bucknall’s Latest Quarterly Cost Report Offers Perspective on a Pivotal Period for Construction Throughout North America

January 5, 2021.

With data current to October 1, 2020 and featuring construction cost information for 14 US and Canadian markets, our Quarterly Cost Report (QCR) provides a statistical view of the state of the construction industry, detailing indicative construction costs for eight building sectors.

Issued in the wake of two critical events—the release of a Covid-19 vaccine and the election of a new American president—the report stands as a benchmark in the recovery of the construction industry.

“Just as the vaccine won’t eradicate the coronavirus overnight, the economic damage incurred over the past ten months will take time to heal, as well,” said Julian Anderson, FRICS, President of Rider Levett Bucknall North America. “In the first half of 2021, the overall economy is unlikely to accelerate. But in the second half of the year, as the agenda of the Biden administration gains traction with its recovery and stimulus plans—particularly programs that address both infrastructure improvement and job creation, which are likely to receive bipartisan support—I’m optimistic that we could see a comeback for the AEC industries.”

Market highlights

  • RLB reports that from July 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020, the U.S. national average increase in construction costs was approximately 0.25% (2.03% annualized)
  • Boston (0.40%), Chicago (0.76%), New York (0.37%), Portland (0.82%), and San Francisco (0.66%) are the markets with quarterly cost increases above the national average
  • Markets seeing a slight decrease this quarter in construction costs include Honolulu (-0.03%), Los Angeles (-0.24%), and Phoenix (-0.18%)

Key fiscal barometers

  • The U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows a year-over-year increase of 1.36%
  • The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reported its largest quarterly drop on record during Q2, with the annualized rate of -31.7%. Q3 reports at an astounding 33.1%
  • The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) reports 47.0 in September; maintaining an index below 50, which indicates a decrease in billings
Read the complete Rider Levett Bucknall QCR report here.

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About RLB

With a network that covers the globe and a heritage spanning over two centuries, Rider Levett Bucknall is a leading independent organisation in cost management and quantity surveying, project management and advisory services.

Our achievements are renowned: from the early days of pioneering quantity surveying, to landmark projects such as the Sydney Opera House, HSBC Headquarters Building in Hong Kong, the 2012 London Olympic Games and CityCenter in Las Vegas.

We continue this successful legacy with our dedication to the value, quality and sustainability of the built environment. Our innovative thinking, global reach, and flawless execution push the boundaries. Taking ambitious projects from an idea to reality.