Don't hesitate: Why now is the time to build


The still-lagging economy might have convinced you to put your building plans on hold. But now is the time to take advantage of discounted construction costs and build the facility of your dreams.

Are you sick of hearing bad news about the economy? Well here’s a little ray of sunshine from Heather Lewis, AIA, principal at Animal Arts in Boulder, Colo.: For some veterinary practice owners, the downturn has created an unexpected window of opportunity.

According to the journal Engineering News and Record, construction volume fell by more than 30 percent last year. That means contractors are 30 percent hungrier than they were a year ago. On the other hand, most veterinarians are doing OK. In an informal survey of Animal Arts’ clients and contacts in the veterinary industry, the firm found that most veterinarians are holding steady, or have grown five to 10 percent in the past year. This means that veterinarians are in a great position to actually gain from the construction downturn.

Between 2002 and 2008, construction costs grew 66 percent. So if you built a veterinary hospital in 2002 for $150 per square foot, the same facility would cost $250 per square foot in 2008. According to Engineering News and Record, construction costs fell by nine percent in 2009. And in the experience of Lewis and her colleagues, veterinary projects that were rebid after the crash showed costs down even further—closer to 25 percent.

Most contractors predict that commercial construction will be down for another 12 to 18 months. Perhaps now is the time to jump in and take advantage of this unexpected opportunity—before the window closes.

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