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What the TBD Index measures


"ENR has only gone up by 5%, but we're seeing bids going up by about 10% since last year - what's going on?" Well, for one thing, the ENR indexes are not meant to show changes in bid prices. There are two main ENR indexes, the Building Cost Index (more applicable to general building work) and the Construction Cost Index (more applicable to civil engineering work), and both of these are based on specific selections of materials and labor types, and reflect the changes in prices for those selections. Over longer periods of time, these will tend to reflect the changes in the cost of construction projects, but they don't, and aren't meant to take into account the changes in the bidding market, which can result in swings of 20% or more above or below what one might call the ENR index 'norm'.

In order to try and see how the actual bidding market has performed over the past few years, we set up a standard project (based on a classroom building) and analyzed our estimates for this type of work going back to the start of 2003 and priced the model project for each quarter since that date.

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