[VIDEO] June US Housing Starts and Nonresidential Planning Surging

Housing starts jumped 8.3% after three months of decline, strong finish to 2017 construction forecast; plus more industry news in the July 27, 2017, edition of Construction News Tracker

Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

Total U.S. housing starts in June jumped 8.3% to a 1.2 million unit annual rate after three months of decline. Permits for future residential construction also increased, climbing 7.4%. Starts of single family construction increased 6.3% to an 849,000 unit rate, with significant gains in the West, Northeast and South. Multi-family construction also rebounded in June with starts jumping 15.4% on strength in the Midwest and Northeast.

Cost management and consultantcy firm Rider Leavett Bucknell is predicting the nation's construction industry will see a positive closeout to 2017. Citing distinct factors from previously reported federal agency conclusions, RLB noted construction costs grew 4.8% through April of this year, with Los Angeles and San Francisco witnessing the greatest cost increases. The consultant reports average bid prices are continuing higher than actual labor and materials costs, indicating contractors and subs show continued confidence in all the related sectors important to their bottom lines despite the fact that unskilled worker activity continues to plague the industry.

Meanwhile, the Dodge Momentum Index has taken another step forward with the June index increasing 1.1% to 141.1 from a revised May reading of 139.6. The report indicates June came in stronger due to a lift of 4.8% by its institutional sector, while commercial fell 1.3%. The Dodge Index is a monthly measure for nonresidential building projects in planning for a year. Despite its fall the commercial component remains 11.8% higher than a year ago, and institutional is 9.5% above its reading in June of 2016.

The House Appropriations Committee has approved spending $17.8 billion in discretionary DOT spending for the next fiscal year. However, the funding level is a cut of 3.5% and $646 million below current DOT spending levels. Among other items in relation to the vote is the entire elimination of the popular TIGER Grant program. It’s a funding tool by the Obama Administration, never fully funded by the Congress. A democratic effort to inject $200 billion into a program to upgrade roads, rails and other public works failed.

Caterpillar is getting into the robotic bricklaying business. The major construction industry manufacturer will invest $2 million in Fastbrick Robotics of Australia which is developing its Hadrian X bricklaying machine. Cat also has the option to invest an additional $8 million. The Cat announcement claims the two firms seek to develop a framework to develop, manufacture and sell robotic bricklaying technology. The Hadrian system reportedly can by utilized either indoor or outdoors in uncontrolled environments.

Home Depot is purchasing its long time rental equipment provider Compact Power Equipment Company for $265 million. The big box store company with over 1,000 outlets in the U.S. and Canada says the purchase is a move to enlarge its capabilities to its core pro construction customer base, with enhanced equipment and tool rental capacity.

After an effort to give the present FBI headquarters building in downtown Washington to a developer as part of a land swap was shot down by an oversight agency, the entire deal has been killed. The General Services Administration put its red stamp on the entire project after the Congress questioned the need to spend $2 billion on a replacement FBI building in suburban Maryland.

Work on the Gordie Howe Memorial Bridge spanning Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is moving forward.

This after the Motor City agreed to use $48 million in land, assets and some streets in order for the beleaguered bridge to become reality. The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority  which will manage the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the crossing called the move a major step forward. The $2.1 billion structure is to begin work later this year with completion in 2020, and be the second highway link at the extremely busy commercial crossing between the U.S. and Canada.

Bid requests went out this month to contractors wishing to participate in the $1.9 billion dollar Las Vegas Raiders Stadium. General contractors Mortenson and McCarthy, which are managing the project jointly, told 1,300 potential bidders they want to see their estimates by the end of this month. Earthwork is set to get underway soon, while equipment mobilization is earmarked for November. Fifteen percent of the project construction is set aside for small business, worker diversity, internships and technical assistance. The Raiders' aggressive construction timeline of only 30 months is the fastest for any domed NFL stadium ever built and expected occupancy in July of 2020.

In closing, our future accomplishments are determined entirely by how every second in our life is put to a use. The future is the cumulation of many nows.    

This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

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