Crane Count in Denver Remains Steady

Summer Cranes, courtesy Ryan Dravitz.
International property and construction consultancy firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) has released its latest Crane Index and Quarterly Cost Report (QCR) for North America. With data current to April 1, 2019 and featuring construction cost information for 14 U.S. and Canadian markets, the QCR provides a statistical view of the state of the construction industry, detailing indicative construction costs for eight building sectors. The biannual Crane Index, compiled with information gathered from three sources—a one-day physical count of fixed-tower cranes on city skylines, a survey of RLB experts on the ground in each location, and interviews with local crane suppliers — provides a visceral view of the construction industry in key markets.

The quantity of cranes in Denver remains fairly constant. After several years of impressive development, the city’s growth has become more modest, with residential construction decreasing due to more people moving out of downtown Denver than migrating to it. Overall, the residential sector is expected to drop 11.5 percent in 2019. The commercial, healthcare, and mixed-use sectors are forecast to grow at a modest rate.

A healthy project pipeline
Broadening the scope of the QCR, RLB cites historical and current data from the Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) to enhance perspective of national trends. From 2011 through 2018, the monthly backlog of commercial, institutional, industrial, and infrastructure projects is up 17 percent. With a 9.15 month average duration in 2018, the CBI is the highest in a decade.
Market and Crane Index highlights
  • RLB reports that from January 1, 2019 to April 1, 2018, U.S. national average increase in construction costs was approximately 1.12%
  • San Francisco (2.50%), Chicago (2.11%), Seattle (1.56%), Honolulu (1.53%), Portland (1.28%), and Phoenix (1.14%), and are the markets that showed the greatest cost increases above the national average during the second quarter
  • Los Angeles was the only market to show a decrease in quarterly construction costs, dropping 1.22%
  • In Canada, Toronto tallied a slight construction cost increase of .54%, while Calgary declined 1.04%
  • Crane counts dipped in Honolulu, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle; in Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, and Portland they remained steady; and the count increased in Calgary, Chicago, and Toronto

Key fiscal barometers

  • The U.S. Gross Domestic Product closed out Q1 2019 at 3.2%, up from the 2018 year-end of 2.6%
  • At 47.8, the Architectural Billings Index is the lowest it has been in five years
  • Construction unemployment is holding steady at 5.2%, a nominal change from Q1
Read the complete QCR report here.
Read the complete Crane Index here.

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