17 Ways to Combat Rising Material and Labor Costs in Construction

May 8, 2024

Building costs are on the rise. Inflation has driven up the prices of materials, labor, and equipment, making it harder for builders and homeowners to stick to their budgets. Recent statistics show lumber prices have increased by X% since 2020, while concrete costs rose by Y%. But don’t despair! With proactive planning and smart adjustments, you can still achieve your construction goals without breaking the bank.

Saving on Materials

Tap into Free Design Assistance: 

Big box home improvement stores often offer free design services when you purchase your materials through them. This takes the pressure off hiring an independent designer! To get the most out of these services, come prepared with room measurements, photos of your space, and a list of your wants and needs.

Hunt for Overstocked Bargains: 

Check with suppliers for overstocked or discontinued items. You could score huge discounts on [keywords related to building supplies]. A homeowner seeking hardwood flooring found a discontinued style at 50% off, saving them thousands on their project.

Use Builder’s-Grade Strategically: 

There’s no need to splurge on premium materials for every part of your project. Use builder’s-grade options for subfloors, interior wall framing, and other less visible areas. Save the high-end stuff for focal points where quality and appearance are most important.

Give Remnants a New Life: 

Remnant pieces of carpet, countertops, or tile can be surprisingly affordable and perfect for smaller projects. Check with specialty stores for their “scratch and dent” section. For a small bathroom renovation, a contractor sourced marble countertop remnants for half the price of a full slab.

Power Up with the Right Tools: 

Investing in a few essential power tools can save you rental fees and boost your DIY ability. This ensures quality results when you tackle tasks on your own. However, always read instruction manuals thoroughly and consider taking a safety course if you’re unfamiliar with a particular tool.

Smart Labor Strategies

Hire Savvy Moonlighters: 

Tap into the skills of workers from large construction firms who do side jobs. You’ll often get comparable expertise at a lower cost (but ensure they have insurance). Before hiring, verify that they have the proper licenses (if your area requires them) and check references from previous jobs.

Utilize Student Labor: 

During summer breaks, consider hiring high school or college students for tasks like demolition, landscaping, or general cleanup,

Maximize Credit Card Rewards: 

Use a rewards credit card for your construction purchases. Those points can add up to cash back or other perks that help offset your costs.

Schedule for Savings: 

Negotiate with contractors for off-season work when they might be more open to lower rates to fill their schedule. By scheduling their roof replacement in the fall, a family secured a 10% discount compared to peak summer prices.

Optimize Your Workforce: 

Cross-train your team so they can handle multiple types of tasks. This means less downtime waiting for specialists and fewer jobs needing to be redone because of miscommunication.

Strengthen Your On-Site Leadership: 

If you’re managing your own project, make sure your leadership style supports efficient work. Effective communication and clear expectations are essential. Provide training to foremen and crew leads if needed.

Efficiency and Cost Control

Bundle Projects for Efficiency: 

When possible, group related tasks or even multiple projects together. This lets contractors streamline their work and potentially offer you a better overall price.

Simplify Waste Management: 

Rent a central dumpster for the job site. It prevents arguments over who pays for disposal on smaller projects and keeps things streamlined.

Ditch the Paperwork: 

Go digital with apps and software that track schedules, budgets, and communication. You’ll save time and prevent miscommunication.

Invest in Your Employees: 

Good benefits packages and recognition reduce turnover, which saves you the high cost of constantly hiring and training new people. This could include health insurance, contributions to tool purchases, and opportunities for skills-based advancement.

Stockpile Strategically: 

If you have the space, buy certain materials in bulk when prices are good. This can protect you from future price surges. But remember, some materials like lumber degrade if not stored properly, so ensure you have a suitable storage area.

Construction Software is Your Friend: 

There are great scheduling and management platforms designed for construction (like CoConstruct) They can save you a ton of time and money in the long run. These programs often manage change orders, track materials, and provide real-time communication – essential for cost control.


Don’t let rising costs derail your construction plans! By sourcing materials strategically, managing labor wisely, embracing technology, and planning proactively, you can build or renovate successfully – even in a challenging market. Remember, even small adjustments can add up to big savings. Try combining a few of these strategies to maximize your impact and build your dream project within your budget.

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