A steep rise in the cost of raw materials over the last six months in Bangalore has pushed up the cost of construction, impacting those undertaking house building activities.

Construction materials, including sand, crushed stone, bricks, steel, cement and also the labour cost has gone up resulting in the overall cost increasing by more than 20 per cent, industry insiders have claimed.

The spike in the rates is partially due to the lack of clear policies by the government, especially on sand and crushed stone that has led to their short supply, M. Ramesh, vice-chairman of Builders Association of India, told The Hindu.

With river sand’s availability plummeting, its cost has shot up to Rs. 28,000 per lorry load from around Rs. 20,000 a few months back. Similarly, the cost of stone aggregate (jalli), which comes in 12, 20 and 40 mm sizes, has risen by Rs. 3 per cubic foot.

“In fact, the cost for a load of sand had increased to almost Rs. 50,000 a few months back. Though it has come down, it is still high as confusion on sand quarrying still persists,” Mr. Ramesh said, adding that the cost of crushed stones is high as owners of crushers and stone quarries are on strike.

As for cement, the price of a bag of it has gone up from around Rs. 330 to Rs. 360 in the last couple of months, while the price of steel is an eye-watering Rs. 48,000 or so a tonne. Not to forget bricks, now Rs. 6 apiece from Rs. 5.

Labour costs

Apart from all this, it is the rising cost of labour that has the industry worried; the availability of skilled labour has also declined in recent months. The cost of labour — both skilled and unskilled — which was being calculated to be around Rs. 10,000 per 100 sq. ft, has more than doubled. “A large number of construction workers from Tamil Nadu have returned home. So is the case with workers from Bihar. This has caused shortage and the available labour is now coming at a premium,” Mr. Ramesh added.

Cutting costs

For R. Govind, who started constructing a 2,200 sq.ft house on Kanakapura Main Road a month ago, the estimated cost increased by about 20 per cent ever since the house was conceptualised more than six months back. To reduce the use of sand, she chose hollow clay brick that would bring down the cost by Rs. 2 lakh.

According to contractor M.S. Vishwanath, the cost of construction has gone up from Rs. 1.1 lakh six months ago to Rs. 1.6 lakh per 100 sq. ft. if ordinary materials are used. “If quality materials are used, the cost would exceed Rs. 2 lakh. Labour cost has doubled and input materials have increased by more than 20 per cent,” he said, adding that he expected the cost to go up further.