If you are a big-building construction contractor in the Treasure Valley, this could be the best days you’ve seen since the Great Recession.
But that could prove troublesome for three Treasure Valley school districts — West Ada, Vallivue and Melba — which will spend about $122 million for five new schools and expansion of another after voters approved bonds Tuesday.
That’s on top of nearly $50 million in estimated construction costs for two new Boise hotels announced last week, coming construction of the J.R. Simplot Co. new headquarters office in Downtown Boise, and construction of multi-family residences throughout the valley.
If all the work comes at once it could stretch demand beyond the construction workforce, which could lead to delays, or rising bid prices.
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Brian Obie, president and CEO of Obie Companies, said he's aware of the glut of big commercial projects under construction or in the planning phase around the Treasure Valley. He knows competition for builders could drive up the price of the hotel he wants to build on the southeast corner of Capitol Boulevard and Myrtle Street in Downtown Boise.
"The contractors that we're talking to have assured us that they've got loyal (subcontractors) and that we'll get competitive bids. But yeah, we have that concern," Obie said. "We're maybe building in a time that is more costly than it would have been in the recession."
But Obie stressed that he wants his hotel, The Inn at 500 Capitol, to be around a long time. In the long run, he said, paying more to build the project won't matter as much as it seems to now.
Builders are beginning to feel the pressure, said Wayne Hammon, Idaho Associated General Contractors CEO. The lag time between signing contracts for a project and turning dirt has been about four weeks, he said. That stretching into eight weeks.
And he’s unsure of the number of subcontractors, particularly in plumbing and heating and air conditioning, that will be available as construction projects prepare to come on line.
On the positive side, Hammon said, building material costs aren’t rising quickly, largely because much of the rest of the world, including China, is in an economic slump and demand for steel and concrete isn’t soaring
West Ada School District didn’t even wait for Tuesday’s vote to lay plans for construction of Victory Middle School to ease overcrowding at Lake Hazel Middle School south of Interstate 84.
West Ada’s Board of Trustees is expected to award bids for Victory Middle School on Thursday and begin turning dirt in late April.
Linda Clark, district superintendent also, is hoping to move up construction of a new elementary school south of the Interstate by a year to an opening date of 2016. Both projects reflect the district’s pressure to ease overcrowded school. But moving that quickly could also put the district ahead of growing construction demands that might raise bid prices.
Statesman reporter Sven Berg contributed.