Construction material prices rise more slowly

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OSB stack

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Producer Price Index for April on Wednesday. It showed that overall prices for processed goods for intermediate demand were up 0.7 percent from March and they increased 4.7 percent from a year earlier. The monthly rate was up from what was reported last month but the annual rate was down, leaving a mixed picture overall.

The BLS reported that prices for materials and components for construction advanced 0.3 percent from March, 2018 and were 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier. Both figures are lower than the equivalents reported last month.

Multihousing Pro (MHP) again researched the price changes as reported by the BLS for our standard list of apartment construction commodities. The prices of these commodities  directly impact the cost of constructing a garden style apartment building. The two right hand columns of the table provide the percent change in the price of the commodity from a year earlier (12 mo. percent change) and the percent change in price from March, 2018 (1 mo. percent change).

The table shows that prices for softwood lumber, which had been surging, moderated somewhat. However, prices of softwood plywood and of OSB continued their rise and prices for asphalt roofing and siding took a big jump.

Overall, most of the apartment construction material prices tracked by MHP rose significantly faster over the past year than the general rate of inflation, which has been about 2.1 percent annually, not including food and energy.

Commodity 12 month percent change 1 month percent change
Softwood lumber 9.9 -1.9
Hardwood lumber 8.2 0.6
General millworks 2.1 0.1
Soft plywood products 27.8 2.0
Waferboard and oriented strandboard (OSB) 11.0 7.1
Hot rolled steel bars, plates and structural shapes 11.2 3.0
Copper wire and cable 7.0 -1.6
Power wire and cable 10.6 -0.2
Builder’s hardware 2.9 1.2
Plumbing fixtures and fittings 4.5 0.1
Enameled iron and metal sanitary ware 3.2 0.0
Furnaces and heaters 3.6 0.5
Sheet metal A/C ducts and stove pipe 0.7 0.1
Electrical lighting fixtures 3.1 2.7
Nails 5.7 3.0
Major appliances 3.4 -0.4
Flat glass 8.4 0.9
Ready mix concrete 6.9 1.3
Asphalt roofing and siding 6.2 7.9
Gypsum products 7.5 -1.0
Mineral wool insulation 1.9 -1.0