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2020 YE South Carolina Construction Trends Report

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Construction starts trending upward after mid-year decline 

Key Takeaways

  • Year-end statewide construction starts in key sectors are $222 million below 2019 totals. Pre-development indicators appear favorable while the construction workforce exceeds pre-COVID 19 levels. New construction activity began trending upward during the fourth quarter of 2020 after a mid-year decline. 
  • A decrease in construction starts has led to increased contractor participation and competitiveness. The ability to continue to recognize cost reductions will diminish in 2021 as material pricing remains volatile, material costs are set to escalate, and construction starts increase.  
  • LCK Construction Tip: The construction market is continuing to feel the medium and long-term implications from the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a new normal evolves, owners procuring construction should thoroughly vet prospective contractors before entering into an agreement.       

Overview

Construction Starts: During 2020, statewide construction starts decreased in four of six sectors as compared to 2019.  The two increasing sectors, multifamily and manufacturing, showed a start growth of 42% and 35% respectively for a combined $913 million in new construction projects.  Commercial construction starts increased significantly during the fourth quarter of 2020, as compared to the preceding three quarters.  

Construction Workforce: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of December 2020, there were 115,000 construction employees in South Carolina, 5,800 more than December 2019. Statewide the construction workforce declined by 6% in April, recouped job losses by September, and now exceeds pre-COVID 19 employment by +/- 5,000 workers.  

U.S. Material Pricing: A year of pricing stability ended in March 2020 when volatility re-entered the market.  Product shortages and price increases for various materials were realized in the spring, while pricing for other materials declined due to decreased demand.  The third and fourth quarters of 2020 saw minor upward price movement with average quarterly increases across all materials tallying 2.39% and 1.66%.  Diesel fuel, pre-engineered metal buildings, steel products, and precast concrete drove fourth quarter increases.  Lumber pricing remains wildly volatile and steel pricing is expected to continue increasing into 2021.  

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2020 YE South Carolina Construction Trends Report

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Related Experts

Mickey Layden

Exec. Vice President | South Carolina & President | LCK

Columbia

I am President/CEO of LCK, the project management partner of Colliers | South Carolina. Founded in 1994, LCK is a certified woman-owned business that serves clients throughout the state through a regional network of offices in Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia, and Charleston.

I also serve as Executive Vice President and Principal of Colliers | South Carolina, with executive leadership responsibility for the firm’s Real Estate Management Services division. The REMS staff of nearly 55 property management and maintenance professionals manages over 16 million square feet of space statewide. 

I have been fortunate to assemble a great team of project management professionals within LCK and together we leverage collective backgrounds in engineering, facilities management, construction and financial modeling to offer a comprehensive service.

My primary focus within both Colliers and LCK is business development, consulting, advisory services and strategic planning.

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Dale Stigamier

Senior Vice President

Columbia

My background is in institutional real estate development and construction, and I have a diverse range of experience in commercial development, asset management, property management and market/feasibility analysis. 

At LCK, my role is to collaborate with clients and our project management team and provide a unique perspective for your project.

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