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.