Local construction project struggles to keep costs on track despite rising prices

JOPLIN, Mo. — Inflation impacts the prices of everyday items we all need, and building materials are no different. We spoke with the Joplin School District about how they are working to manage the costs of some of their projects as prices continue to climb.

Since January 2020, the price of building materials has increased by just over 31%. This is according to the National Association of Home Builders. Residential and commercial projects are feeling a pinch. Joplin Schools facilities manager Dave Pettit said they were able to secure lower prices for the new Dover Hill Elementary School. “Between the school district, the architect and Crossland Construction, we have worked hard to encourage all material suppliers to ensure that they immediately place orders for material to be stored on site or stored off site so that you can make sure you got the best price at the time.

Pettit says it takes a lot of planning to make sure a project runs smoothly and on budget. “Another thing we do is to make competitive offers, which allows us to ensure that we get the lowest cost possible, or we use cooperatives who have also integrated competitive prices for these items.

Although things are on budget there, emergency expenses can appear throughout the district. “What’s great is that we have good suppliers that we have a great relationship with and who know we’re a school district, if things come up that are big enough and that’s a contingency exercise for us when approaching that repair or replacement, that they are generally willing to work with us and find, to help us find a way to fix this problem before it becomes very problematic.

But even then, it could mean a rush-bought HVAC unit could cost significantly more than the same one ordered in advance for Dover Hill. Pettit says that while the majority of items for Dover Hill were pre-purchased, some things popped up which changed the overall cost. “We had to bring the school board some small change orders and things that we made available to the public, but it’s important that we take the best possible care of the money available for this project.”

The good news, the National Homebuilder’s Association, says the cost of steel mill prices has fallen by almost 10%.

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