Budgeting Accessibility Improvements in These Crazy Times

Construction drawings, hard hat, smart level, tape measure, gloves and hammer

A pandemic and now supply chain challenges have wreaked havoc on the construction industry and facility owners, especially those trying to make accessibility improvements as part of an ADA Transition Plan.

The team at Gordian, publishers of the RS Means commercial construction costs solutions, presented their data sets for Q1 on January 20. The team collects thousands of data points across more than 970 cities in the U.S. Trends for 2022 so far include high level cost changes:

  • 93% of material costs, equipment and labor experienced change.
  • 71% of all construction materials increased (while only 57% did last year).
  • 98% of labor increased (the same percentage as last year). The increase cost is driven up by voluntary unemployment. The construction industry is experiencing a shortage of .5 million people to fill open jobs.
  • 71% of equipment prices increased (such as rental & operational costs – fuel, lubrication, maintenance).

If you have put together budget placeholders in your ADA Transition Plan it may be time to revisit those placeholders. The team at Gordian reports some of the most volatile price increases over 2021:

  • Ready mix concrete is up 28%. The price fluctuation is dependent on the cost to get the product to the site, many cost increases that have compounded the cost including fuel, equipment, and labor.
  • Steel is up 24%.
  • Hollow metal doors are up 33%.
  • Copper pipe and wire is up 76%. This is attributed to the wild development of green technologies that need copper wiring like electric cars. The huge demand on the need for this product is further driving up the cost.
  • CDX Plywood is down 24%. This may indicate the bubble on wood prices has burst.
  • Standard construction lumber is down 6%.

The Gordian team reports that they are seeing a seesaw affect between steel and lumber. When one cost increases, the other decreases. To further demonstrate the cost to construction, Gordian establishes a baseline using a new construction 4-7 story apartment building. From 2021 to 2022, the cost for the new construction has increased nationally:

  • Minneapolis up $1.4 million.
  • Washington DC up $1.2 million.
  • Dallas up $1.0 million.
  • San Francisco up $1.3 million.
  • National average up $1.1 million.

The mix of COVID safety protocols, supply shortages, logistics complications and inflation requires the accessibility management team to revisit their ADA Transition Plan, adjust cost estimates, and budget requests. The accessibility management team should be flexible to community and organizational factors. Consider meeting monthly/quarterly to make scheduling adjustments to planned projects. Document schedule adjustments and make it available for public inquiry. Also consider convening a meeting of your disability advisory committee to discuss how the increased construction costs have affected scheduled accessibility improvements and ask for their input. It is critical that people with disabilities are included in the discussion and their input helps to guide priorities.