How Today's Construction Is Catching Up With Technology and Demands

In 2018, Bautex attended the TxA Design Conference and Expo. It was a great opportunity to meet architects and builders in the industry and learn what the biggest challenges facing the design and construction industries are right now.

When we asked about key design challenges, the response was overwhelmingly energy codes, with building envelope coming in second. For construction challenges, cost of material was a common theme, followed by labor issues.

Design and construction are fast-paced, competitive industries. As architects and builders work to innovate, while keeping schedules on track and costs down, they’re looking to proven methods and modern technologies to successfully complete their projects quickly and efficiently.

Here are some of the trends in design and construction that we’re keeping an eye on.

Energy Code



Energy costs are up, and everyone from designers to operators and tenants are looking for a way to manage those expenses. Energy efficiency begins in the design phase. With more and more building owners and facility managers looking to attract high profile tenants, the prestige of accreditations like ENERGY STAR® and LEED is going from nice-to-have to need-to-have.

Choosing the right insulation is a critical first step in making sure a new building will be as energy efficient as possible. There are a variety of rigid foam panels on the market that are energy code-compliant, as well as other products like mineral or rock wool and spray foam.

A composite insulated concrete form, like the Bautex Wall System, is another way to meet or even exceed Texas energy codes. This wall system includes continuous built-in insulation. This kind of thermal mass makes it ideal for buildings seeking accreditation under current energy efficiency standards.

Building Envelope



Designing, building and operating a building is a constant battle to keep water where it’s supposed to be, whether that’s inside plumbing or outside the building envelope. Masonry degrades, insulation can shrink and, over time, the many different components that make up a building envelope become less well integrated.

Modern technology like drones is one way to help ensure the building envelope is in good condition and to identify potential issues before they become real problems. This is especially true for multi-story commercial buildings, where entire parts of the building's exterior are not easily accessible for regular inspection. Incorporating drones into your building condition assessments can help bring peace of mind.

A product like Bautex blocks can help proactively manage future challenges faced in maintaining a building envelope. As a fully integrated system, the Bautex composite insulated concrete block replaces many traditional construction elements, including masonry, steel and insulation. As a result, there are fewer parts to degrade and need repair or replacement over time, extending the longevity of your building’s envelope.

Cost of Materials



2018 was a tough year when it came to affordable building materials. With steel tariffs, as well as increased costs for materials like diesel, lumber, aluminum, gypsum products and plastic construction materials, builders are urgently looking for new ways to keep projects on budget.

Modular construction is one approach to reduce costs. Modular buildings can be completed 50% faster than those built on-site and with fewer wasted materials. And with modern building technologies, modular construction can boast the same level of performance as buildings constructed on-site.

For buildings that are too large or complex to be constructed in a plant, using prefabricated block systems is another way to keep the cost of raw materials down. These integrated systems mean less overall material is needed to go from foundation to completion and results in less wasted material because the blocks are designed to fit together almost seamlessly.

Labor Shortage



More than 75% of Texas construction companies are facing labor shortages, even when offering higher wages. This can result in costly delays on projects, even while construction demand in cities like Dallas and Austin is soaring. Construction can’t stop while builders struggle to hire, and so construction firms need to find new ways to be as efficient as possible.

Project management software is critical to making sure work is done effectively and efficiently. Modern software is more than Gantt charts. Instead, it’s able to provide real-time reporting on all aspects of the work, giving builders a chance to identify issues and delays before they turn into costly mistakes.

Similarly, Building Information Management (BIM) software integrates all the key players in a building, from the architect to the builder and to the operator. When a change is made at any level, the BIM system is able to communicate that and integrate it into the documents and models used by everyone else. This helps the whole team work and communicate in a more collaborative and efficient way.

New materials are also helping to manage labor shortages on the construction site. Products like Bautex Blocks are an all-in-one solution and are easily installed. This reduces the number of different tradespeople needed onsite and prevents expensive delays while waiting for specialists to become available.

We’re nearly 20 years into the 21st century, and the construction industry is continuing to evolve in the face of changing economic forces and technologies. To keep up to date on the latest trends, visit the Bautex blog.