Contract Surety

Homemade: Building Materials?



Publicly funded building projects are where a lot of the action for contractors will continue to be over the next several years. With provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) calling for buying American made materials, it’s important to stay on top of the emergent guidance.


Time To Try Something New?

Historically, requirements for purchasing American made materials have been focused on iron and steel, with protocols focused on particular federal projects. Proposed new guidelines aim to expand the materials that fall under “Buy America.” When finalized later this year, the intent is for the new guidelines to be applicable to all federally funded infrastructure projects—not just those specifically funded with IIJA dollars. Julie Strupp of Construction Dive reports that The White House’s Office of Management and Budget’s proposed guidance reflects the addition of three new products to the list—composite building materials, fiber-optic cable and optical fiber—and points out: “The OMB’s updates aim to clarify requirements and provide consistent, government-wide guidance, including how to price materials and which products can be considered U.S.-made.” Among the other materials under consideration for inclusion in the new purchasing protocols are engineered wood products, brick, paint, stains and other coatings.


Although the current effort to boost domestic manufacturing is comprehensive, there are some exceptions. For example: “The Federal Highway Administration Tuesday published a temporary Buy America waiver for electric vehicle charger components, including steel, iron, manufactured products and construction materials. It will go into effect on March 23.”  Overall, the guidance under consideration includes these provisions: and waiver possibiities:


A product qualifies as manufactured in the U.S. if the cost of its components that are mined, produced or manufactured domestically is greater than 55% of the total cost of all components. Construction materials have unique standards that qualify them for Buy America; those materials include:

  • Non-ferrous metals.
  • Plastic and polymer-based products.
  • Composite building materials.
  • Fiber-optic cable.
  • Optical fiber.


The guidance does say that a federal awarding agency may waive Buy America requirements if it is inconsistent with the public interest, increases the cost of the overall project by more than 25% or if the materials are not produced in the United States in “sufficient and reasonably available quantities or of a satisfactory quality.”


Bid Ready?

Whether you are subcontracting or thinking about going all in, you’ll find it helpful to keep an eye on where infrastructure dollars are headed. You’ll find The White House’s listing of Open and Upcoming Infrastructure Funding Opportunities here.  Anirban Basu, chief economist for ABC reminds us:“State and local governments are flush with cash, and considerable funding is slated for various forms of infrastructure.” More tips on “following the money” are right here.


Don’t forget: Colonial Surety is ready to help builders grow strategically via The Partnership Account for Contractors®. Get free insights and financial scores just for completing the pre-qualification. Then, once qualified, The Partnership Account  provides builders with a surety line of credit—in writing—and a private digital dashboard. Use it to access real time financial intel, including a day to day snapshot of single and aggregate limits and current and available bond capacity. Go ahead: update work on hand, increase your aggregate and move that next project forward. Get started right here, now: Pre-Qualify and Get Free Scores



In many ways, the disruptions of the last few years have, by default, propelled builders into experimenting with a variety of materials, many of which are in fact homemade in one way or another. For example, recycled construction and demolition waste is being used to make engineered wood or aggregate. Research is even in progress on using “mycelium fungus” to make bricks. Meanwhile, modular and prefabricated building is gaining ground,–and that opens up more new possibilities for materials.


Much is possible with the right mindset—and partners. Got a special opportunity coming along? Let’s connect—that’s what partners are for, right? The Partnership Account for Contractors® helps contractors grow strategically, one win at a time, via:


  • Control of bidding and bonding, online and in real time.
    • Powers of attorney to seal and issue their own bid bonds—in minutes.
    • Fast, direct, confidential bid bonds—no middleman.
    • Direct access to performance and payment bonds on a customized dashboard.
    • Real time tracking of bids and work on hand.
    • Immediate access to Colonial’s lead underwriter as new opportunities emerge.
    • A private Owners Dashboard to view surety lines, adjust work and analyze bids.

Pre-Qualify and Get Free Scores Here.


Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a leading direct seller and writer of surety bonds and insurance products across the USA. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company and U.S. Treasury listed. Let’s connect today: LinkedIn!