A recently released report from FMI shows the Nonresidential Construction Index up 7.8 points to 58.1. (50 is neutral.) More companies plan to hire, albeit only up to 5%, than lay off. This is up five percentage points from last year this same time. The prediction for construction put in place is a meager .5 to 2.5%, but at least it’s more not less. The FMI report goes on, “For some indication of what is holding these expectations back, we also asked panelists for their observations on what owners are doing to control project costs. It is clear that low, low price and high competition are still the driving factors. Savvy owners are also focusing on involving CMs and contractors in the pre-construction phase of the project as well as taking advantage of more sophisticated construction delivery methods and technologies like building information modeling (BIM). It is good to see there are signs that at least pockets of the country are beginning to build again, but the economy is still at the mercy of an uncertain global economy and a world that seems to be changing rapidly in many directions.”
Don’t forget to read the DJC’s annual Construction & Equipment special. This year, Joel Andersen wrote about how his family’s construction firm built itself a new office in Seattle from 95 percent recycled, reused or re-purposed materials. Cool stuff!
We also have a brief chat with five local contractors to get a feel of what’s going on in the industry. Of course, we can’t forget award-winning projects by members of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington.
Check it out!
The Washington State Department of Enterprise Services announced that beginning March 30, contractors from states that have an in-state bidder preference competing on public works projects in Washington will have a reciprocal amount added to their bid proposals.
The reciprocal amount will be added to bring them in line with the disadvantages contractors based in Washington face when bidding on projects in Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. The 2011 Legislature directed Enterprise Services (then General Administration) to take this action.
Currently, those four states provide a bidding preference to resident contractors who bid on public works contracts. Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming add a set percentage disadvantage amount to the bids submitted from out-of-state contractors. This puts Washington-based contractors at a disadvantage when bidding in those states. Starting March 30 DES will add a reciprocal disadvantage to all public works bids submitted by contractors from states with an in-state bidding preference. The disadvantage amount will be equal to the advantage given by the state with the bidding preference.
The Governor is expected to sign legislation that preserves 900 construction jobs and keeps work on the new SR 520 floating bridge going despite a lawsuit filed by environmental groups.
If the bill had not passed during the waning days of the legislative session, construction on the pontoons in Aberdeen and the anchors in Tacoma would have ceased and construction on the 520 bridge on the lake itself would have been delayed from its scheduled spring start. This would have meant the loss of the hundreds of construction jobs currently in place and added about $165 million in costs for a year’s delay.
It was tense for a while when it looked like the bill would have a hard time overcoming House leadership opposition to get to the House floor for a vote. But House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn made a great effort to rally support. This, and Gov. Gregoire’s intervention on behalf of the bill, got it to the floor where it passed overwhelmingly.
In February neighborhood and environment groups filed a lawsuit claiming WSDOT failed to consider all “reasonable alternatives” when it decided to build a wider and taller floating bridge to replace the current bridge, thus violating the state’s Shoreline Management Act — which is the only environmental law requiring, when litigation is filed, that all construction stop pending hearings before the Shorelines Appeals Board.
The measure, HB 2814, does not prevent the litigation from progressing, but it exempts the SR 520 project from the work stoppage requirement.