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How to Find Regional Construction Tracking and Forecast Information

05/28/2010 by Jim Haughey

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Although valuable to contractors, materials and services suppliers, facility planners and designers, regional construction tracking and forecast information is typically less available, more dated and less reliable than information for the national market. Recognizing the need for timely information, Reed Construction Data creates and gathers economic and construction data from public sources to track and forecast regional construction markets. Here is some of the information Reed Construction Data provides.

PROPRIETARY REED CONSTRUCTION DATA REGIONAL CONSTRUCTION INFORMATION
This information is created by Reed Construction Data in the process of building up to national construction tracking and forecast data.

Project News
SmartProject News is a constantly-updated online database of all US construction projects, with the exception of single family housing. Projects in the concept phase are recorded by RCD construction reporters and then regularly updated, step by step, through the bid phase. The information recorded for each project includes description, location, full contact information, square footage (buildings only), estimated general contract value and, eventually, the full plans and specifications needed for bidding. The information is available in customer-specified ranges of counties or states and selections of over 100 types of projects.

Visit SmartProject News for more information.

Project Starts Summary
This summary of the more detailed project news database includes single family housing starts from the monthly Census Bureau survey. Project values missing in the project news database are estimated with RSMeans building cost models. The summary is available by customer-selected geography and customer selections from 27 summary types of projects. Monthly reports, issued on about the 10th of the month for the previous month, include the full monthly time series with corrections and late reports for previous months. This service is typically used by construction market suppliers who do not plan to bid on specific projects, but need to know the level of construction activity in a region. A national summary by project type is posted every month on the Market Insights section of the Reed Construction Data website.

Click here for more information about the Project Starts Summary.

Expansion Index
This interactive map provides expansion indexes for US metro areas. Clicking on a city shows the expansion index for that city. The index is the ratio between the dollar value of projects expected to start in the next twelve months to the dollar value of projects actually started in the previous twelve months. The expansion index is updated about the 10th of each month with data through the previous month. The value of projects expected to start in the next twelve months is derived from an extensive editing of the project news database. Projects stalled in the step-by-step development process and large projects early in the development process are eliminated. There is an upward bias in the expansion index, since not all proposals are eventually built on schedule. Nonetheless, the expansion index is reliable for comparing changes over time for each market and the intensity of construction activity between markets.

Go here for more information.

Starts Forecast
This is a quarterly, four-year forecast of construction starts, both dollar value and square footage, at the county level for 21 summary project types. The report is the output of an econometric model, whose key inputs are county summaries of the project news database, and a county level forecast of the US economy. None of the output is posted on the Reed Construction Data website, but the national summary is an input into the forecast of US construction spending by project type, which is updated monthly on the Market Insights web page.

Go here for more information.

Costworks
This is an interactive online and print construction cost service from the RSMeans division of Reed Construction Data. It provides current cost estimates of nearly 100 of the most common material, labor and equipment expenses on the job site for major US and Canada metro areas. It is typically used to identify cost trends, compare costs between regions and, using building models, to estimate construction costs for specific proposals.

Public Regional Construction Information
This information is free from government statistical services and industry trade associations, but often difficult to access and keep updated. Reed Construction Data combines proprietary information with this free information to prepare forecasts, as well as analytical reports posted frequently on the Market Insights web page.

Reed Construction Data uses lots of "proxy" information for regional tracking and forecasts in the absence of hard and timely data available at the national level.

Housing is the best documented sector. Housing permits and starts and new home sales, prices and inventories are available regionally with about a one month lag from the Census Bureau at www.census.gov/mcd/index/html. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) also provides Census Bureau data, supplemented with member surveys and its own research. A fee or membership is required for some of the detailed regional data. Existing home data is available on about the same schedule from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) . Some of the detailed regional data requires a fee or membership.

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