The recent increase in prices of building materials have caused financial difficulty for building contractors and individuals building their own homes.

The price of most building materials, including cement, steel, bricks, paint and interior decorations, increased by 10-20 percent this month over last month, building-material traders said.

This was not the first increase after Tet (Lunar New Year), they said, adding that in late February, the prices had risen by 20 percent and up to 30 percent for certain items compared to the end of last year.

The increase in transport and input costs have pushed up prices of building materials, they said.

Nguyen Van Tu, owner of a furniture shop on To Hien Thanh Street, said higher prices of imported wood materials, additives used in furniture-making, and an increase in workers' salaries had increased prices by 10-20 percent of furniture products, including wooden doors, kitchen cupboards, wardrobes and others.

Lam Cong Tan, owner of a plywood shop on the same street, agreed with Tu saying that price of rubber wood, medium-density fiberboard and other kinds of wood also increased by 5-10 percent this month.

A representative of a company that distributes decoration lights imported from China said prices had gone up by 15-30 percent recently.

For example, small lamps cost between 100,000 VND and 150,000 VND, medium lamps, 350,000 VND to 450,000 VND and high-end lamps, 500,000 VND.

She attributed the price hike to the higher exchange rate and transport costs.

Hoang Thanh Binh, director of the Vietnam Project Co Ltd, said building material prices as well as labour costs had increased dramatically since the beginning of the year.

The main builders' salary increased to 220,000 VND per day compared to 180,000-200,000 VND per day as before, while the cost for an assistant builder currently stands at 150,000-170,000 VND per day.

This means that building one square metre of housing floor now require up to 3 million VND instead of only 2.6 million VND as before, he said.

Costs for house design and decoration had also increased, which led to higher prices in construction contracts, he added.

One resident in Binh Thanh district said he had to pay an additional 150 million VND (7,166 USD) compared to his initial construction estimate for building a three-storey house.

Steel prices are expected to fall slightly in the second quarter of the year due to oversupply and low demand, according to the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA).

Steel consumption volume in March from VSA members fell by 30.79 percent over the previous month, partly because steel trading companies bought less steel to stock, said VSA.

In addition, the Government's slashing of public spending also contributed to pulling down steel demand, it said. /.