What We Learned in 2018

As we head into the last few weeks of 2018, it’s time to have a look at where con­struc­tion is headed in the coming year. Demand for new builds and replace­ment of aging buildings and infra­struc­ture means there are business oppor­tu­ni­ties to be had, but builders need to be smarter and more efficient than ever to stay competitive.

Technological Growth

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Drones

As drones become more afford­able, adoption in the con­struc­tion industry is on the rise. Whether they’re used to provide aerial pho­tog­ra­phy, site surveys or as part of health and safety inspec­tions, the appli­ca­tions for drones continue to expand. While the consumer industry is still eval­u­at­ing the potential for drone deliv­er­ies, drones are already on the move in con­struc­tion.

For those still unsure about the cost of drones, there are potential savings to be gained by investing in the tech­nol­o­gy. When used for site inspec­tions in real time, they have the potential to help builders identify defi­cien­cies quickly and reduce the chance of delays and asso­ci­at­ed cost overruns.

Building Information Modeling

Seamless trans­mis­sion of infor­ma­tion is key in all sectors and the con­struc­tion industry is no exception. The use of Building Infor­ma­tion Modeling (BIM) inte­grates all the important players in a project, from archi­tects to engineers, builders to operators.

Using BIM allows for greater col­lab­o­ra­tion on a project. When a change is made, that change is com­mu­ni­cat­ed and inte­grat­ed into models at all levels of the job. With a continued focus on col­lab­o­ra­tion and cost man­age­ment in the industry, BIM is likely to see ongoing adoption next year.

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Project Management Software

With a focus on budgeting and workforce man­age­ment, more and more con­struc­tion firms are turning toward project man­age­ment software to help get work done. Many software options have now inte­grat­ed all aspects of the project and are able to provide real-time reporting on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, costs and potential delays, making them essential both for site staff and man­age­ment teams.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) is helping designers, builders and new owners see a finished product today, sometimes before con­struc­tion has even started. A great way to show off what you can do to potential customers and partners, virtual reality is moving beyond cum­ber­some goggles into a fully immersive experience.

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Augmented reality (AR) is seeing more adoption on con­struc­tion sites as well. AR has the potential to provide design overlays, live updates on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and accurate hands-free mea­sure­ment of the space. Although the appli­ca­tions of this tech­nol­o­gy are newer than VR, we expect to see them continue to expand in 2019.

3D Printing

The world’s first 3D printed building was completed in late 2017, and its success has meant a growing number of 3D printing appli­ca­tions through­out the industry. The tech­nol­o­gy has moved beyond the printing of scaled models and is now used to produce accurate full-size building com­po­nents for res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial spaces.

With the current economic realities, including tariffs on building materials and a shortage of available labor, tech­nolo­gies like 3D printing will drive effi­cien­cy by ensuring each indi­vid­ual part used in a project is the perfect size, thereby reducing wasted materials and schedule delays.

Green Building and Sustainability

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Green Building

Requests for green buildings increased by as much as 64% in 2018. Whether this trend is addressed is using sus­tain­able building materials, applying for accred­i­ta­tion under inter­na­tion­al­ly-rec­og­nized green building standards like LEED and Net Zero, or inte­grat­ing smart tech­nolo­gies during con­struc­tion, green building is no longer just a trend; it’s reality.

However, with green building becoming the expec­ta­tion, not the exception, many home­own­ers don’t want to pay more for it. While there will always be a premium market where sus­tain­abil­i­ty is concerned, many con­struc­tion firms will need to find ways to make green building afford­able to stay com­pet­i­tive in the market.

Smaller Homes

Whether it’s baby boomers down­siz­ing or mil­len­ni­als entering the market, many home­buy­ers are going smaller. This includes a smaller footprint on the outside and a simpler design indoors. Rising energy costs make this a practical and sus­tain­able solution for many people looking to build a home.

Economic Trends

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Increased Cost of Materials

It’s been a difficult year when it comes to the cost of tra­di­tion­al building materials. Steel tariffs were all over the news through the summer, but the impact of it is still being felt by the con­struc­tion industry. With an overall increase in the cost of materials around 9% since 2017, builders are working hard to find effi­cien­cies and alter­na­tives to stay competitive.

Decreased Labor Force

With low unem­ploy­ment across the United States, there are nearly a quarter million unfilled con­struc­tion jobs. This leads to project delays and lost contracts. Coupled with a demand for workers who are skilled in the tech­nolo­gies described in this article, con­struc­tion companies will need to find ways to address this gap in 2019.

Alternative Building Solutions

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Modular and Prefabricated Building

With industry growth, increased material costs and not enough workers, res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial builders need ways to effi­cient­ly keep up with demand.

Modular and pre­fab­ri­cat­ed con­struc­tion is an increas­ing­ly popular way to fill that demand. Requiring less time and fewer trades to meet deadlines, modular and pre­fab­ri­cat­ed options are set to keep growing through the next year.

Similarly, building materials like insulated concrete forms mean con­struc­tion companies will need fewer trades to get to project com­ple­tion, even on a tighter schedule.

2018 was an exciting year in the con­struc­tion industry, and we are excited to see what new trends and oppor­tu­ni­ties 2019 has in store. For more infor­ma­tion on how Bautex’s Wall System can help you get your next job done faster, visit our website.