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.