Construction material costs in 2018 are up about 10 percent compared to last year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and some raw materials, like crude petroleum, are up nearly 50 percent. Labor is also getting more expensive as construction workers are in high demand due to the skilled labor shortage.
So, as a homeowner getting ready to start a project, what can you do to mitigate these rising costs?
1. Don’t delay
Building materials are projected to get even more expensive and the project backlog for some contractors across the country is up to three or four months. Waiting to start the process of a home repair or improvement, especially a needed one like a new roof, could push off the repair for months due to the contractor’s schedule, and only cause the project to get more expensive as building material costs continue to rise.
2. Look for low-cost quality products
Home improvement isn’t the place to cut corners by buying the cheapest supplies, but in many product segments there is a low-cost leader — a product or brand comparable in quality to more expensive brands, but offered at a lower cost to provide the best value per dollar.
3. Choose a reputable contractor
Don’t cut corners when hiring a contractor. Even if it may be more expensive upfront, or result in a longer waiting period for work to start, hiring an experienced local contractor with a good reputation can save thousands of dollars in the long run.
“A good contractor should be able to show homeowners their license to practice and a certificate of insurance,” said Rick Taylor, Field Sales Training Manager for TAMKO Building Products, a leading manufacturer of asphalt roofing shingles.
A bonus, Taylor said, are certifications from the manufacturers of products the contractor installs, whether it be roofing, flooring or cabinets.
“Every company has a best way to install their products, and being educated on that preferred installation can go a long way in the product performing the way it was intended to,” Taylor said.
A reputable local contractor is more likely to do the job right the first time and be more willing to address any potential problems with the project in the future.
4. Plan, plan, plan
With any home improvement project, there are many decisions to be made, both large and small. Making as many of those decisions early in the process can reduce project delays or rework. Some of the decisions that can be made before the contractor ever starts include establishing the scope of the project, identifying potential issues, having utilities mark lines and deciding what brands to use and product colors to install.