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.