New construction starts between April 2012 and April 2013 totaled $10 billion, according to McGraw Hill Construction. That’s an increase of nearly 4% over the previous twelve months.
The increase masks a wide disparity between housing and commercial contracts. Residential starts rose about 16% over the year, while nonresidential starts fell to barely half their previous level.
Kim Kennedy is McGraw Hill Construction’s manager of forecasting. She says there’s good reason to expect commercial starts will pick up in the coming months.
“Housing is typically a precursor to nonresidential construction. It turns first, and then nonresidential construction will turn upward. So if that pattern holds true here, we’ll probably see a turnaround in nonresidential construction for Houston either later this year or early next.”
The sharp year-over-year decline in commercial contracts is in part a reflection of the unusually high value of contracts in April 2012. That month saw a record high of more than $500 million in nonresidential construction starts, the strongest monthly showing in more than three years.