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.