BY MARTHA QUILLIN
firstname.lastname@example.org March 25, 2014
RALEIGH — Nearly every time the new Wake County Justice Center comes up during a meeting of the Board of Commissioners, one member or another points out that the building – the largest single construction project the county has ever undertaken – was finished last year several months ahead of schedule and about $30 million under budget.
County officials have a right to sound so wistful; they may not see such a bargain again.
After several sluggish years, the non-residential construction business, which has been slower to recover from the recession than homebuilding, is showing signs of improvement. This spring, just as county officials launch an ambitious building program, prices for labor and materials seem poised to rise.
“I’m fairly well convinced that it’s going to happen,” said Mark Forestieri, director of the county’s Facilities Design and Construction department. “It’s already happening in dribs and drabs. The market has been down for so long, it’s bound to go up sometime, and we think it’s probably going to happen now.”
Nationwide, spending on nonresidential construction increased 6.5 percent – more than $35 billion – in January 2014 compared with the same month a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Forecasters expect business for the year to be up nearly 6 percent over last year.