Navigating today's high construction costs

Navigating today's high construction costs

If over the last two years you have contemplated undertaking a renovation project, you will be fully aware of the dramatic shifts going on within the construction market. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the reality that construction costs are higher right now. In this article, we provide a brief overview of why quotes being issued by construction companies in Europe are exceeding expectations. And, more importantly, we will be sharing tips on how to effectively navigate these issues in a way that helps to ensure your renovation stays within budget.

The costs in question

There has been a considerable increase in the price of construction materials. This has put construction companies' profit margins under pressure. In response to this, contractors have been forced to raise their prices to defend this margin.

Three key reasons

But why has there been such an increase in the first place?

1. Inflation

As of now, the Eurozone’s headline inflation rate is running at 5 percent. As supply gradually catches up with demand over the course of 2022, inflation is predicted to go down, but currently products like construction materials are particularly expensive.

2. Supply chain disruptions

Construction material inventories in Europe are at a record low. Over the course of the pandemic, manufacturing of essential materials all over the world came to a grinding halt. Suppliers must improve their inventories before price decreases can be considered.

3. High demand

These supply chain disruptions have been accompanied by high demand in the construction sector. Not only are there severely backlogged projects that were disrupted by the pandemic but also high demand for new construction projects. This is arguably a consequence of people having saved throughout lockdowns and / or those who wish to prioritise the quality of their home environment with the advent of remote work.

Five tips for overcoming the issue

Here is what you can do to overcome the issue:

1. Don’t delay

Although this may sound counterintuitive, and it may seem like the most obvious choice is to simply wait until construction prices go down, there is no guarantee when this will happen. Contractors are likely to maintain, if not continue to raise their prices. High demand right now may also mean your project is pushed much further than you would anticipate and eventually at a higher cost.

2. Plan ahead

With this demand in the construction sector in mind, it is advisable to plan ahead. If you have time and do not need to start construction right away, make sure you still engage contractors as soon as possible, and then plan with them to start in a few months. When you can adjust your timeline to their pipeline, this can help with the costs. If you need your work prioritised, they are likely to charge for the urgent work.

3. Prioritise

As construction prices are high, it may be a beneficial solution to use a contractor for only the most essential parts of your project. A contractor is usually necessary for significant interventions like breaking walls, but surface level actions like painting and decorating, for example, you could perhaps delay to a more convenient time or, better yet, try doing it yourself!

4. Be selective

Opt for materials and features in the design of your project with the highest cost benefit. This is particularly relevant now as certain materials are far more expensive than others. Take the time to consider what is most essential to you in the project and which parts of the design you are willing to adapt and be flexible with for the sake of cost.

5. Professional advice

Having the input of an architect can significantly increase the tangible financial benefit of the tips mentioned above – planning, prioritisation and selectivity. Architects help you do more with less. Professional experience promises creative and cost-effective design solutions you would not have considered, for example, like sourcing a cheaper alternative material which achieves the same desired effect. Industry connections to suppliers and contractors also potentially mean they can negotiate discounts on your behalf.

It may seem counterintuitive when discussing ways to curve construction costs to propose piling on the additional expense of hiring an architect. However, the benefits of having a highly experienced professional onboard your project, who is familiar with the ins and out of the construction process and of the industry itself, arguably does outweigh the costs. From avoiding potentially costly mistakes to the selection of cost-effective materials, architects guarantee your vision is achieved and eliminate unessential spending.

Approach your project head on

It is understandable if you feel discouraged about pursuing a renovation project right now because of the challenging state of the construction industry. The process towards recovery may well be long and unpredictable. However, the truth is that waiting will not necessarily guarantee costs will improve. If you are hoping to renovate or undertake a new build in the near future, it is advisable to approach the project head-on. Make sure you have all the necessary knowledge about new developments in the industry and an experienced team to help you make innovative and financially smart design choices.

Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes


Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes

Architect, author, international speaker, Founder and CEO of AKKA Architects, Stephanie is part of a new breed of young visionary architects who operate beyond the nowadays restrained realm of architecture....

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