Concerns About Buy America Policy

construction materials

Almost two years later, we’re still unsure exactly how the Build America, Buy America policy is supposed to work. But the government isn’t too clear, either. One of the offshoots of ignorance and uncertainty is fear, and construction contractors worry when it’s finally decided how to implement the Buy America policy, compliance will drive prices through the roof.

Exceptions & FAQs: Build America, Buy America Clarifications

The Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA) requires construction products and materials on all federally assisted infrastructure projects to originate in-country. Contractors’ biggest concern is yet another price increase. International Construction says exceptions are and can be made to the regulations, which are in effect but not finalized.

Interesting exceptions categories are:

  1. Nonavailability of U.S. iron, steel, manufactured products/construction materials “in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or of a satisfactory quality
  2. Public interest inconsistency
  3. Unreasonable cost (will raise the cost of the overall project more than 25%)

Some of the BABAA FAQs (frequently asked questions) include*:

Q: Are construction services, like hazardous waste removal or debris clean-up mandated in the regulations?

Q: Do the BABAA provisions apply to my in-the-works projects?
Not if the funding was appropriated before May 22, 2022.

Q: Does my construction equipment need to comply with BABAA?
No. However, the regulations apply to installed equipment, like a thermostat. The thermostat must be made in the USA. Its components and subcomponents, however, can be manufactured elsewhere.

Q: How do I know if my project meets the qualifications for “infrastructure project?”
See M-22-11.pdf.

Q: What constitutes “construction materials?”
Any manufactured material or product that is primarily iron or steel, including cement/cementitious materials or aggregates, including:

  • Drywall
  • Glass
  • Gravel
  • Lumber
  • Non-ferrous materials
  • Plastic/polymer-based products
    • Composite building materials
    • Polymers/fiber optic cables
    • Polyvinylchloride
  • Sand
  • Stone

Construction Information You Can Use

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*These answers are the author’s interpretation of BABAA wording. Please let us know if you believe we have misinterpreted the policy.

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