March 08, 2018

13 Construction Trends in Texas for 2018

Construction trends in Texas for 2018 promise welcome advancements in building methods and materials that create sustainable, durable, and healthy buildings. Builders and architects are embracing these trends even as they grapple with increasing construction and labor costs. Construction in the United States is expected to grow nearly 5 percent in 2018, slightly higher than in 2017. In the South, there is a forecasted construction growth of 6 percent. The State predicted to have the strongest construction growth is Texas at 10 percent. These thirteen construction trends in Texas for 2018 fall generally under the headings of resilience, energy-efficiency, safety, health, technology, and increasing construction costs.

Resilient Construction Design Trends

The devastating hurricane season of 2017 has put storm-resistant building design at the top of the list of 2018 construction trends in Texas. Hurricane Harvey alone caused $180 billion in damage in the state. Specifically, Harvey damaged 203,000 homes, destroying 12,700 of those. In addition, Texas ranks first as the State with the highest annual average number of tornadoes between the years of 1991 and 2015. Two important 2018 construction trends in Texas are flood- and wind-resilient construction.

1. Flood-Resistant Building Design

Building a flood-resistant structure, particularly in flood hazard zones, is an important construction trend in Texas for 2018. This is especially true for Houston and East Texas residents who are faced with staggering rebuilding costs after Hurricane Harvey. Flood-resistant buildings protect against flooding from both tides and storm surges and excessive rain. Also, the design of a structure built in a flood hazard zone must be according to the American Society of Civil Engineers 24 (ASCE 24). Flood-resistant design should include elevated structures, materials that can get wet, and design assemblies that easily dry when exposed to moisture. Flood and water-resistant design in flood hazard zones are essential in protecting a structure and the occupants during a hurricane event.

2. Wind Resistance Design

Building a wind-resistant structure, with a continuous load path, is an important construction trend in Texas for 2018. A continuous load path is crucial to holding a building together, particularly during the high winds of a hurricane. A continuous load path makes sure that when a load, including lateral (horizontal) and uplift loads, attacks a building, the load will move from the roof, wall and other components to the foundation and into the ground. A strong continuous load path is essential to holding the roof, walls, floors, and foundation together during a hurricane.

The Bautex Wall System provides the resilience and strength to resist heavy winds and flying debris from winds caused by even the strongest hurricanes like Harvey. The Bautex Wall System meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA 361 and FEMA 320 recommendation in storm zones with wind speeds of 250 miles per hour. The Bautex Block also has the strength and mass to resist the impact of wind-driven debris travelling at speeds more than 100 mph. Bautex Walls are an excellent choice for storm-resistant construction.

3. Fire-Resistant Design

After one of the worst U.S. wildfire seasons in years, fire-resistant construction is trending in Texas for 2018. In fact, in 2016, according to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 1,342,000 fires in the United States. These fires caused 3,390 civilian deaths, 14,650 civilian injuries, and $10.6 billion in property damage.

A superb option for fire-resistant construction is Bautex Blocks. Bautex Blocks meet and surpass industry's standard for fire resistance. They have an ASTM E119 fire rating of four-hours, and ASTM E84 reported values for flame spread of zero and smoke development of twenty. Bautex Blocks successfully passed the NFPA 286 and E84 tests, and meet the NFPA 101 basic life safety fire code regardless of finishes.

Energy-Efficient Construction Trends

Another 2018 construction trends in Texas includes energy-efficient designs that achieve net-zero energy use and high indoor environmental quality.  An energy-efficient building has continuous insulation, low air infiltration, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and energy-efficient doors, windows, and electrical systems. Specific energy-efficient construction trends in Texas for 2018 include a whole-building system approach and the use of thermal mass building systems.

4. Whole-Building System Approach to Energy Efficiency

A 2018 construction trend in Texas is the use of the whole-building system approach in the design and construction of energy efficient structures. The whole-building system approach treats a building as a single energy system in which each part affects the performance of the whole-building. A building is only as good as its weakest part. The goal of the whole-building system approach is to create an energy-efficient and durable building with a healthy and safe indoor environment in the most cost-effect manner possible. The whole-building system approach encourages the entire project team to work together to meet overall project goals.

5. Utilizing High Thermal Mass Materials with Continuous Insulation

Trending in 2018 is the use of high thermal mass materials to create an energy-efficient building. High thermal mass materials can stabilize temperature shifts within a building by slowing the rate of heat transfer. Water, brick, stone, and concrete are examples of high thermal mass materials.

The Bautex Wall System is an excellent high thermal mass product that provides continuous insulation and minimizes air and moisture infiltration. The Bautex insulated concrete block wall system provides an R-14 continuous insulation that meets the latest 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (2015 IECC).

Healthy Building Trends

In 2018, commercial, government and residential building owners are demanding healthier building design. A building or home must have an indoor environment that is safe, comfortable and productive to its occupants. A healthy building design considers many indoor environmental factors, such as indoor air quality (IAQ) and indoor sound quality (ISQ).

6. Excellent Indoor Air Quality

In 2018, a trend in construction includes creating buildings and homes with indoor air quality. Proper installation of air and moisture barriers is essential to good indoor air quality.

The Bautex Air and Moisture Barrier is an excellent product for preventing air and moisture infiltration to the interior of the structure. The Bautex Air and Moisture Barrier is easy to apply and ensures a tight and energy-efficient building envelope that meets and even exceeds the requirements of most commercial and residential construction projects.  The application of the Bautex AMB 20 air and moisture barrier to the Bautex Block wall also creates a moisture resistant, airtight structure that eliminates thermal bridges and potential for complications and health risks due to condensation.

7. Indoor Sound Quality in Building Design

In 2018, the design of new buildings or homes should create peaceful and quiet spaces. Effective acoustical spaces in buildings and homes are also essential for controlling noise pollution. Noise pollution adds stress, infringes on privacy and reduces the quality of life of building occupants. A construction trend in 2018 includes effective indoor sound quality.

The Bautex Wall System is an ideal material choice for effective acoustic design and high sound reduction. The Bautex Wall System meets the American National Standards Institute criteria for schools and received high Sound Transmission Class and Outdoor-Indoor Transmission Class ratings from ETS-Lindgren Acoustic Research Laboratory.

Construction Technology Trends

8. Safety Meeting Mobile Apps

A vital construction trend in Texas for 2018 is improving job site safety with the use of safety meeting mobile apps. Improving job site safety is essential for today’s construction workers. In fact, in 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that construction had the highest number of fatal work injuries by industry sector.

Safety-focused mobile apps improve safety by allowing workers at a site to easily produce safety data and conduct safety meetings. Essentially a safety mobile app enhances communication between the office and field. It is also compliant with OSHA. A safety mobile app saves time and money, improves accountability, and prevents injuries. A safety mobile app is an essential construction trend in Texas for 2018.

9. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Drones equipped with cameras are a popular construction trend in 2018 in Texas. Drones are used to gather data of the entire construction site. The data is used to make maps, determine the changes and updates to the project, and even complete a safety inspection. Utilizing drones at a construction job site improves efficiency and overall safety for workers. Builders can expect to see an increase in the use of drones in and around job sites during 2018.

10. Smart Building Systems

In 2018, smart building systems are trending. Smart buildings use building management controls and optimization software to manage air conditioner, ventilation, heating, security, lighting, and other energy consuming functions. Smart building technology allows building owners to optimize the use of space, reduce energy use, and support the organizations sustainability goals. Construction trends in 2018 in Texas include smart building designs that support the environment.

Increasing Construction Costs

According to the 2018 North American Construction Forecast Report, construction costs are predicted to increase two to three percent in 2018. Builders, architects, and building owners can expect that 2018 will bring an increase in both construction materials and labor.

11. Increasing Construction Labor Costs in 2018

Construction labor costs are forecasted to increase by 3 to 4 percent in 2018. Labor shortages are due to difficulty in recruiting younger workers and skilled labor, along with stricter immigration policies. The labor shortage has resulted in employers raising the average pay to secure qualified workers.

12. Increasing Construction Material Costs in 2018

In 2018, construction material costs are forecasted to increase two to three percent.  Material costs have risen due to the increasing demands after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Also, the Trump administration 10-percent tax on Canadian softwood lumber has contributed to a reduced supply of wood, further increasing its price. In fact, the random length framing composite price average in 2017 was 413, the second highest price in over 20 years. More recently introduced steel and metals tariffs are also wreaking havoc on construction prices and volatility. Builders can expect an increase in overall construction material costs, particularly with wood-frame construction

As wood and steel prices continue to climb, a shift towards alternative framing materials, like insulating concrete blocks (ICB), is a wise choice.  The Bautex Wall System is an example of insulated concrete block construction. Bautex Block has many averages over wood- and steel-frame construction. Bautex Blocks are more resistant to fire, disaster, and insect resistant than wood-frame construction. Bautex Blocks is also a healthier choice over wood-frame construction.           

13. Panelized and Modular Construction Trending in 2018

Panelized and modular construction is a building trend in 2018 that saves both time and money. Panelized and modular construction can reduce construction time over traditional methods, like wood, metal or concrete, by more than 50 percent. Factory-built modular construction produces essentially the same level of performance, but eliminates much of the inefficiency in conventional construction processes.

Another answer to reducing construction time and cost is utilizing integrated building systems that provide multiple functions of a building in one. These systems reduce the number of trades and the amount of labor required to complete a building project. Integrated systems also benefit the contractor by simplifying and accelerating the construction process.

The Bautex Wall System is an easy to install  insulated concrete block wall system that provides structure, enclosure, insulation, and air and moisture protection in one assembly. Contractors using the Bautex Wall System can count on quick and easy construction, and owners get the benefit of a building system that is much higher performing than most conventional and modular construction.

The ASCE 24 is the referenced standard in the International Building Code® (IBC) and tells designers, architects, and builders the minimum requirements and expected performance for the design and construction of buildings and structures in flood hazard areas.  Buildings designed according to ASCE 24 aim to resist flood loads and flood damage and are compliant with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum requirements.

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