Introducing Daniel Pomfrett, MRICS
National Director of Forecasting and Analytics

We’d like to introduce Daniel Pomfrett, our National Director of Forecasting and Analytics. He is now responsible for publishing Cumming Insights, our quarterly report that breaks down economic trends and projections for regional construction markets across the country. Daniel, who joined Cumming in 2013, has provided services for national and international architects, museum owners, government-run cultural institutions, and private developers. Over the course of his career, which spans more than 20 years, he has put together an impressive international portfolio and accumulated vast knowledge of the construction market.

How do you collect your information? 

Our information is derived from multiple resources, including the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dodge Data and Analytics, and IHS-Markit Global Insight, from which we draw previous, current, and future market projections for construction volume/activity and labor/skillset availability. We also incorporate real-time feedback from the contracting community as well as our project database, which includes bid results for recent projects — as a company, we see approximately 300 projects per month. Once all the data is collated, we closely analyze and review it all to calculate our projections of the market and to create our project-specific unit price book.

Why is it important to understand regional micro-markets? 

Within any region, city, or location there are micro-markets where the construction economics can affect projects. This could range from the availability of labor and material delivery, to travel, taxes, local codes, etc. We have seen swings of up to 30% between downtown and suburban locations 20 miles apart, and we have seen markets that were perceived to be lower cost landing at higher levels.

What are the typical economic drivers in a given market? 

Labor will always be the biggest driver, specifically the availability and skillset of the labor pool. Across the country, we are seeing very similar stories of skillset shortages leading to increased costs. Materials and energy are other key drivers, albeit with less impact on the market. Issues such as tariffs and oil prices are having both direct and indirect effects on construction pricing.

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Do you see any downturns in the construction market in the coming years? 

2018 was a good year for construction volume. Although we will unlikely see those gains in the coming years, nationwide the market should still continue to grow at least into 2022. The market is still very regional, and I would expect any downturn to be localized — markets such as Chicago and San Francisco will continue to have steady growth, while recent boom towns such as Nashville are expected to slow. We are seeing data also point to other large markets such as New York City and Los Angeles leveling out through 2021 and potentially to slow down thereafter. Although we are unlikely to see those gains in the coming years, the market nationwide should continue to grow into at least 2022.

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