General builder Turner Corp. announced that construction costs in the first quarter of 2003 are projected to remain the same as the fourth quarter of 2002. According to the Turner Building Cost Index, the first quarter 2003 index will hold at 620, showing a .49 percent increase from the first quarter 2002 index of 617.

According to Karl F. Almstead, Turner vice president responsible for the Building Cost Index, the reduced available non-residential construction markets, combined with the uncertainty about war, have continued to weaken pricing pressure. Although individual materials have shown price fluctuation, in general the pricing of materials and manufactured goods has remained flat.

"Labor costs have had some upward pressure but do not seem to be having significant influence," says Almstead. "The increases in insurance and surety costs are, however, adding to the pricing pressure." He went on to report that in total, though, the market appears to be absorbing the increased cost factors because the overall business environment is becoming more competitive.