The economy has pretty much hit everyone hard.  But what usually happens in this type of economy is more price changes for materials.  Sometimes the trends tend to adjust rather quickly.  We wanted to give you a quick update on some of the major construction material trends.

Cement/Concrete/Aggregates

Ready-mix concrete prices declined between 0.5% and 1.4% this month, according to ENR’s 20-city average price. This dip wiped out July’s 1.2% hike and a 0.1% increase in August, bringing prices back to last June’s level. The decline left concrete prices averaging 1.6% above September 2009’s level, which is down from August when concrete prices averaged annual gains of 2.7%. Portland cement prices managed a 0.3% increase this month, following a 0.2% increase in August. The back-to-back monthly increases helped to keep portland cement prices 1.7% above a year ago, up 0.2% from August’s annual pace.

Pipe

Prices for construction pipe products are showing varied results ranging from steady increases for ductile iron pipe to a sharp rebound for reinforced concrete pipe to a large roll back for PVC water pipe. However, overall prices for many pipe products remain well above last year’s depressed levels. The largest year-to-year increase is 10.8% for 1/2-in. copper water tubing, followed by 10.2% increase for 8-in. DIP. Corrugated steel pipe prices are up between 4% and 7% from August 2009, according to ENR’s 20-city average price. PVC water and sewer pipe have the most modest increases, ranging from 2% to 5%.

Lumber/Drywall

Lumber prices are starting to stall after an initial rebound from record lows earlier in the year. ENR’s 20-city average price for the most commonly used species of 2x4s jumped 8% between last February and May, following housing’s rebound, also from record lows. However, lumber prices have cooled as the rebound in housing began to falter, resulting in lumber prices falling 4% in the last three months. This year, the mill price for framing lumber dropped from $357 a thousand bd ft last April to $252 this July, according to a composite price index published by Random Lengths, Eugene, Ore

Steel

Structural-steel prices inched up another 0.5% this month, keeping prices 4.4% above a year ago, according to ENR’s 20-city average price for channel, wide-flange and I-beams. However, prices may be moving down soon, according to the construction materials forecast firm Global Insight, Washington, D.C. Global Insight predicts that structural steel prices will fall 1.5% between the second and third quarter of this year to $727 per ton. Prices are expected to fall another 10.6% to $650 a ton by the first quarter of next year before bottoming out, says Global Insight.