Construction costs throughout the state expected to increase after Hurricane Harvey

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SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – The price to finish a construction project may increase in the coming months as resources head to the Texas coast to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey.  Architects are already warning one school district about the potential increase before it even starts construction on a new elementary school.

Central Texas may not be recovering from Hurricane Harvey like those who live along the coast, but experts say locals will soon start to feel its impacts.

“Early news is that we are looking at probably one percent to one point five percent increase in inflation per month,” said Perkins+Will Architect Koleman Uresti.

The increase has to do solely with construction materials and labor. Uresti is the lead architect for the new San Marcos CISD elementary school citizens voted for in the May bond. With a set budget of $30.5 million and plans already drawn up, there’s little room to add extra expenses.

“Some of the board members who were a part of previous natural disasters, they knew they experienced price increases,” Uresti said. “Katrina is the first one that comes to my mind. We saw price changes in the construction market for about three years after that, so it sticks around for a little bit.”

Uresti is expecting to see prices for structural materials increase — that includes boards, drywall, piping and even AC units.

“Those are going to be some of the more expensive items that you will see because that need is there,” Uresti said. “Production times are also going to get a little longer.”

He also expects construction crews to move to the coast as well, meaning the fee to keep them in central Texas will also increase.

“We’ve always had that shortage in labor, but I really think we are going to start to see that impact now that there is a lot of subcontractors moving down to the Texas coast,” he said.

In preparation for the price hike, Uresti is already looking at places to cut that will keep him on budget.

“We are looking at the type of design, creating multiple levels to help eliminate some costs. If you have a lot of dirt work you are going to have to pay more for gas because you have those big bulldozers moving dirt around,” Uresti said. “We had discussions internally about how we can save money from that standpoint, and this site plan actually allows us to reduce the amount of dirt work through our design.”

San Marcos CISD expects to start construction on the new school in June and it will be complete by August 2020.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Austin also tells KXAN people can expect projects to last longer and cost more.

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