Construction is a dynamic field, and upcoming advances will noticeably shift many parts of the industry. From smart personal protective gear to self-healing concrete, the future is set to introduce surprising innovations to the construction industry.
Although you have tried-and-true procedures and strategies, you can complement your expertise with fresh resources and techniques. These trends can streamline your operations, enhance your safety protocols, increase the quality of your work and drive your performance.
We compiled this list of trends that are poised to impact construction, and the main changes lie in four segments — materials, sustainability, technology and safety.
Importance of Tracking Construction Trends
Just 20 years ago, construction teams relied on paper plans to guide their projects, but digital records now dominate construction procedures. It’s evident that new demands, methods and technology are regularly rising in the industry. Even within the last year, many trends have appeared, grown stronger or dissipated.
Observing the industry’s trends is crucial for construction professionals. If you aren’t aware of changes in construction, your techniques become outdated, and your business suffers. Although you can stand out in your experience, you can quickly fall behind if you don’t prioritize progress. As you service clients, you can rise above competitors through continual growth. Your grasp on the latest tools and resources causes you to remain relevant through the years, and developments can enrich the quality of your work.
Learning from useful trends helps you stay at the forefront of the field. Tracking construction industry trends can promote on-site efficiency and limit the disruption of day-to-day operations. For instance, modern, rigorous safety measures can prevent setbacks from damages or injuries. To lead the industry and hone your skills, master innovative practices and expedite your procedures.
1. New Construction Materials
Materials often limit construction professionals, but many emerging supplies are adding fresh potential to the industry. Strategically engineered supplies feature versatile and helpful features, like inflated steel’s light-weight but durable composition. With commercial applications, new construction materials can push past previous barriers.
Recently, the industry started using cross-laminated timber (CLT). The layering process makes CLT stronger than standard wood, which creates resilient panels. It has a low environmental impact and can withstand high temperatures, making it a cost-effective alternative for floors and walls.
Carbon Fiber Strand Rods
Carbon fiber products are also becoming widely used, including strand rods and fiber-based balsa. With carbon fiber’s flexibility and robust tensile strength, it can repair compromised buildings or equip structures for seismic activity. To retrofit buildings, rods consisting of thermoplastic carbon fiber reinforce structures and add an aesthetic appeal.
A revolutionary material, self-healing concrete, is altering the lifespan of building and bridge foundations. The formula is inspired by ancient Roman concrete, and the combination of ingredients withstands corrosion over time. After cracks form, a chemical reaction produces additional material to fill the fissures. Self-healing concrete fixes the common issue of cracks and crumbling structures.
Recently, it became possible to fill thin steel sheets with air and stabilize them. After welding steel pieces together, manufacturers can pump air into the pocket while pressurizing the steel. Inflated steel enhances the inherent strength and stability of steel sheets while keeping components lightweight. The possibilities of inflated steel structures are promising, particularly in roofing and bridges.
Filtration materials, like passive air-filtration bricks, can reduce pollution and boost air quality for construction clients. These breathable bricks remove toxins and particles from the air by directing airflow through a cyclone-like path. The rectangular concrete masonry blocks are arranged to form a barrier along with vertical supports. In the long-run, filtration bricks can save clients money and purify building interiors in places with poor air quality, like congested cities.
Normally, cement is vulnerable to chemical and water damage, but newly discovered properties can alter the aggregate. By adding charged compounds that diminish surface tension, manufacturers can control cement’s density. Rather than letting the cement retain a haphazard structure, cement is programmed to include deliberate molecular shapes. This leads to a tighter material that resists wear and tear.
Construction Material Cost Trends
In 2018, the cost of popular construction materials rose 7.4 percent due to increasing pressures, but input prices are projected to decline. Overall, the industry has been grappling with increasing expenses, and many contractors were accepting high costs without increasing client prices.
Policies were pushing the cost of steel and aluminum up, making critical supplies like beams and pipelines more expensive. The cost of steel mill goods was projected to spike regardless of new policies, but this trend amplified the change. Now, the availability and cost of these materials are evening out.
Rising material transportation prices have been contributing to financial strain on companies. However, natural gas prices have been fluctuating, but they’re currently falling, which could impact the current momentum of the market.
The cost of necessary goods like oil and copper have decreased in 2019, returning profit margins to a favorable level for construction companies.
2. Green Construction Methods and Sustainability
Environmental considerations are extremely important to the public, and the construction industry is incorporating eco-friendly practices to accommodate these values. Sustainable construction prioritizes efficiency in resources and responsible building methods. Also, tax benefits and incentives push these efforts forward.
Concerns about waste in the construction process are being addressed through recycled building supplies. To cut back on the large amounts of landfill waste typically generated, workers are reclaiming material from old buildings and repurposing them in fresh projects.
A popular trend, zero net energy buildings, takes sustainability to another level by attempting to eliminate energy consumption. Each site generates the energy it needs through solar, wind or geothermal sources. Various internal and external systems help these buildings become self-sufficient.
There’s a shift toward designing structures to endure, too. Long-lasting designs are accounting for future degradation and environmental disasters. Long-standing buildings can diminish the amount of demolition and repairs that add to landfills.
Over time, sustainable construction is cost-effective, especially for clients, and beneficial for the environment, as green methods release fewer pollutants into the atmosphere. Endeavors to decrease the carbon footprint in construction are positively impacting society and slowly gathering speed.
3. Technology Trends in the Construction Industry
As in most industries, technology has transformed how professionals conceive construction plans and craft buildings. Evolving technology continues to enhance construction procedures and open solutions to reoccurring challenges. From robotics to revolutionary software, the latest technology trends in construction are modernizing the most basic construction tasks.
Traditional surveying methods can have human error and take several days. Thanks to drones, land surveying is finished in minutes, substantially conserving labor, time and money. Now contractors rely on drones to collect vital data for projects, and supplementary software can quickly analyze the data they gather. Drones can also help managers and supervisors monitor the productivity of workers, and this surveillance is valuable for security purposes, too.
Drones make on-site communication easier, as the instant visibility of an expansive area can convey more than audible reports from workers. This maintains a steady workflow and prevents setbacks to schedules.
Building Information Modeling
Continually a popular process, building information modeling (BIM) has increased thoroughness in the exchange of data and development of projects. However, it continues to grow with the emergence of cloud systems. With streamlined details and intelligent multi-dimensional modeling, BIM allows every involved party to review projects without wasting time.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can prepare and guide workers through projects. These devices, which are usually headsets, can present the anticipated construction steps and simulate building models.
VR replaces the need for setting up intensive scaled miniatures of sites or for visiting physical locations to walk through the specifics or check on progress. Building owners and commercial property managers can also display their available spaces to customers without waiting for the project to finish.
Projecting possible designs through AR can give further dimension in the planning stages of construction. AR gadgets can allow construction professionals to interactively assess sites and walk through their intended plan before starting. This promotes accuracy, as teams can gather extensive information and catch miscalculations early.
The field must overcome some limitations, but 3D printing technology can offer customization and adaptability. These machines can form complex pieces or buildings in a range of materials.
Some companies have already been successful in printing entire structures, but the industry is still easing into the idea of printing materials. Large structural components can be fabricated onsite or at another location, so transportation is no longer a necessary part of the process.
As 3D printing gains traction in construction, it could reduce supply costs. There is also more certainty in production, as the machines can execute exact measurements.
While the medical field has understood the potential of robotics for a while, this trend is just taking off in the construction industry. Construction professionals can use robotics to perform precise physical tasks on job sites.
As robotics become more mainstream and advanced, they may be able to replace human labor. If the shortage of skilled workers persists, robotics could offset this issue. Several processes must become automated before construction fully embraces this trend, but eventually, robotics could play a role in welding or bricklaying.
4. Industrial Safety
Construction tends to pose more risks to workers than many other fields. In 2017, 20.7 percent of worker deaths in the U.S. private industry were in construction. However, improved safety measures and resources are working to keep construction professionals from harm. Additional training is a worthwhile solution, but new technology is also furthering safety efforts with intelligent monitoring and protective gear.
Falls and fatal encounters with heavy equipment account for many construction accidents, and preventive devices can catch these situations before they happen. Devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) can predict hazardous areas to warn workers and managers. Workers can avoid industrial accidents with IoT gadgets, specifically wearable electronics. With the real-time evaluation of the setting, workers can benefit from this reliable support.
Increasing personal protective equipment is another common trend in industrial safety. Smart helmets with built-in communication are connecting workers so they can share necessary updates on-the-go. Earmuffs and headsets with smart features can reduce noise damage and maintain clear correspondence on loud sites. Wearable electronics can relay changes in health to EMTs or signal a worker’s fatigue to supervisors.
Managers are setting rigorous safety expectations on job sites, and surveillance through cameras equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) is aiding the push for protective gear. AI can also learn behavioral patterns and report when workers are misusing equipment. Accountability can spur your workers on to pay attention to protocol.
Smart cameras are also being used to detect exposure to toxic chemicals. Contaminated air from gas leaks can be detrimental, but camera sensors with a unique imaging spectrum can rapidly pinpoint leaks. Automated warning systems can gauge the extent of the problem and alert those on the project site to get to safety.
Impressive Growth for the Future of Construction
The future of the construction industry is complex, but there are significant signs of positive growth. While there are setbacks, real output and the availability of emerging technology are reasons for optimism. Long-term, the industry is moving forward into a balanced state in terms of employment and revenue.
The most compelling indication of growth is the outlook of employment in the coming years. Construction is expected to have the largest industry increase in employment by 2024 compared to other sectors. Better recruitment and retention of employees can attract more workers and create desirable job conditions. Technology within construction is also generating jobs as more technicians and engineers are needed. The output from construction is also set to surge, influencing other industries like real estate.
Costs for materials and transportation have been high, but experts expect them to plateau. Contractors should be able to boost revenues as the sector expands.
Economic growth can offer construction professionals plenty of opportunities. Commercial investments from the government and increased consumer spending both set up construction entities for success. Concentration on green building projects is one factor in support of this upward trend. Remodeling, historic renovations and additions serve as viable sources for shaping the time ahead for industrial construction. The following years could bring the stability the construction industry has been lacking.
Keep up With Trends in Construction
As a whole, the construction industry has experienced obstacles but is recovering and moving toward a prosperous period. Trends in materials, sustainability, technology and safety are fortifying construction professionals and revamping their practices. You can progress in your industry knowledge to lead the way in construction innovation.
Remain aware of the changes in the industry to take advantage of promising methods and new technology. You can hone your skills and gain further insight as you watch construction grow.
At Houck, we are dedicated to safety, quality and performance. With over 70 years of experience, we are highly specialized in building restoration and maintenance services. Contact Houck today to request our construction services, learn more industry information, or inquire about Houck career opportunities.
Whether your building is undergoing significant repairs or a much-needed upgrade, commercial construction is a necessary inconvenience.
Most businesses will experience commercial development during the life of their buildings. However, major construction can be incredibly disruptive for your employees, and it can last for months at a time. How does a company carry on with normal, day-to-day operations when surrounded by loud and distracting construction?
If your company is experiencing major commercial construction, it’s possible to remain productive and efficient. In this guide, we walk through various ways to streamline the construction process, so that it is as smooth and disruption-free as possible.
Construction Project Management
Regardless of its size and scope, any construction project requires a highly skilled project manager.
Construction project management takes the expertise and skill of a traditional project manager and applies it to the construction and development industry. Experienced managers can navigate the shifting demands of construction and direct the material and human resources involved in a project. A construction project manager uses modern management techniques to handle the planning and execution of a construction project. Their goal is to realize the client’s objectives of cost, scope, time and quality.
A construction project manager must have strong communication skills, a deep knowledge of the construction process and industry and the ability to problem-solve quickly and efficiently. Beyond construction, a project manager understands areas of finance, law, mediation and business. In essence, a construction manager is the link between you and the project, and they are responsible for communicating with you and overseeing the project details.
As you work with a construction project manager, keep in mind their key responsibilities:
- Planning: A construction manager works with you to plan the project, helping you divide the ultimate goal into smaller steps. Often, project managers also determine the details of the timeline, budget and hiring on-site workers and subcontractors.
- Goal-setting: The project manager keeps construction moving forward according to plan. Their goal is to finish the project on schedule and within budget.
- Supervising: After hiring a team of skilled and competent on-site workers, a construction manager helps define each person’s role in the project and communicate their individual responsibilities. A project manager is the boss of the job site, and they serve as an intermediary between you and their team.
- Risk management: A construction manager is familiar with the risks involved with a project. An experienced project manager identifies potential setbacks and develops strategies for dealing with external and internal delays.
Project managers have complex and vital roles in the construction process, and they are essential in reducing the disruptions of a construction project.
Define Your Goals and What Cannot Be Disrupted
Before you begin construction, meet with the construction manager and come up with a set of goals for the project. What are the parts of your day-to-day business that cannot be disrupted during construction?
For example, if you run a medical center or a hospital, one of the non-negotiable elements could be patient comfort. For the well-being of your patients, you might choose slower or quieter construction methods. The overall timeline and budget of your project might shift, but the comfort of your patients will not be compromised.
In an office environment, employees can tolerate a degree of noise without losing focus or productivity. However, you might be unwilling to compromise the parking needs of your company for months on end. When meeting with your project manager, see if you can develop alternative parking strategies for either your employees or the on-site workers. Securing parking spaces for your employees will help the construction feel less intrusive.
Before you begin, understand that you will have to bend on some things — by definition, major construction is disruptive. Once you have determined your top goals and non-negotiable elements, work with your project manager to find the best solutions for your company’s specific needs.
Creating Realistic Expectations and Timelines
Establishing realistic expectations and timelines is a crucial step for a successful project.
To develop accurate and realistic expectations, focus on the project’s scope, budget, timeline and resources, along with developing strategies for minimizing risk.
The scope of a project encompasses more than the final result. It also takes into account the steps required to reach your end goal — for example, acquiring building permits, pouring a foundation and raising the frame. Efficiently managing a project’s scope is all about maximizing the budgeted resources, time and money for each step of the construction process.
When considering your project’s scope, make sure that all involved parties and stakeholders agree on the ultimate goal as well as the details. Account for every step of the process so that your budget and timeline remain accurate.
Building a realistic budget begins with a meticulously detailed forecast of the total anticipated costs.
When creating a budget, account for every aspect of the construction project, even the small steps. To allow for unexpected changes or delays, develop a contingency fund to use in an emergency. A realistic goal for a budget is to complete the construction at or below the estimated costs, without breaking into the contingency fund.
A detailed and realistic schedule is essential to completing your project on time.
It’s crucial to accurately calculate the length of each step in the scope of the project. Talk with your project manager to determine which of the steps depend on the completion of others — not every step can start at the same time. Establish checkpoints throughout the project to verify that the construction schedule and budget are on track. All it takes is one setback to delay the whole project, so leave some flexibility in your project timeline.
The resources of your project are the equipment, materials and people required to complete construction. To build realistic expectations about the scope, budget and timeline of your project, it’s essential to know how many resources are required. Also note where in the construction process they will be needed — if two steps of the project require the same equipment, try to complete those steps close together to maximize efficiency.
5. Risk Management
A risk is any event outside of the scope that affects your project’s schedule or budget.
Planning and preparing for risks is vital for building a realistic timeline. No matter how carefully or accurately planned, a project will always experience some unexpected changes. Work with a project manager to identify potential risks and plan for them — this will help mitigate any negative effects.
Common Commercial Construction Delays
Every project will encounter unexpected delays. Before the construction begins, make sure you have allowed flexibility in your timeline and goals to account for setbacks. Consider these sources of construction delays as you plan your project:
1. Inclement Weather
Rainy days can cost you more than just time — rain can also cause damage to materials and new construction. If your region experiences a massive storm, excess rain may cause rivers or streams to overflow, flooding excavations and worksites. It can take days to pump out flooded areas, and while insurance can cover some of the rain-caused damages, it often doesn’t account for the resulting project delays.
Other hazardous weather conditions include high winds, which can be especially dangerous if your project requires cranes. Some climates are prone to developing tornadoes, which can rip through job sites and wreck existing construction. Extreme heat or cold can hinder your on-site workers and cause delays, and a lightning strike can damage equipment or injure workers.
To mitigate the damage of inclement weather, make allowances for weather disruptions in your schedule. Research the average weather conditions of your area. If possible, schedule activities that would be impacted by rain outside typically rainy or windy seasons. Modify working hours to avoid dangerously hot summers — begin work early in the morning when the air is cool, and stop by early to mid-afternoon when the temperatures peak. Keep adequate water pumps on-site, and design a way to remove water from the construction site when needed.
Ultimately, the weather is unpredictable and difficult to anticipate. For a realistic timeline, leave a margin in your schedule to account for weather delays.
2. Resource and Budget Shortages
If you are in the middle of a commercial construction project, one of the worst scenarios is overextending your resources or budget.
Budget shortages can cause long delays in a project, ranging from a few weeks to several years. The longer the project, the longer the daily operations of your business will be disrupted. Keeping on-budget is difficult, especially in an economy with continuously rising construction costs. But with realistic planning, you can keep your construction project progressing on-time and within your resources.
Ask if your construction project manager uses an accounting software specifically designed for construction companies — these help managers accurately price projects and stay within budget. Software can also help a construction manager maximize operational efficiency, monitor performance and uphold contract compliance throughout the project, keeping costs down.
3. Exhausted or Unreliable Crews
Often, construction companies will assume more projects than they can handle, overbooking their crews and overextending their equipment.
Alternatively, a team of subcontractors may be unreliable, lacking the experience, training or methodology required to finish a job with timeliness. During the course of a project, a crew may grow exhausted or inefficient, creating costly delays in construction.
To combat this, some managers choose to hire additional workers during the middle of a project. While hiring fresh employees is not necessary for every project, discuss the possibility with your contractor and develop a strategy in case it is needed.
4. Sudden Changes
When developing a timeline for your project, always leave flexibility for sudden, unexpected changes.
The list of potential setbacks is endless. Sometimes equipment breaks down, and it takes longer than expected to find a replacement machine. A project design error might take weeks of additional work to correct, or illness might sweep through your crew. It’s impossible to predict every possible delay — again, leave a margin in your timeline for the unexpected.
By planning flexibility for potential delays, you will build a realistic timeline and keep your project on track — even when faced with sudden changes.
Selecting the Right Contractor
The right contractor will make or break your commercial construction project. But in a growing industry, the options are numerous — choosing a contractor can be an overwhelming task. As you search for the right team to work with you and your company’s needs, walk through these steps to simplify the process.
- Ask for recommendations: Check with other local business or building inspectors to get recommendations for high-quality contractors. Getting a personal recommendation helps you know that you are selecting a contractor with a solid reputation for completing projects on time and under budget.
- Conduct phone interviews: Contact the company to see if they take on projects like yours. Ask for a list of former clients, as well as how long they have been operating.
- Investigate claims: Call previous clients and ask them about their experience with the contractor. If you can, visit the finished project and examine the quality of work. Check out one of the contractor’s current worksite — is it safe and organized?
- Quality over price: You might be tempted to choose the lowest bidding company. However, if a contractor is offering significantly lower prices than competitors, they are most likely cutting corners at some point in the construction process. Instead of going with the lowest bidder, choose a contractor that communicates well and is dedicated to providing a high-quality product.
The best contractors will have a stellar track record of service and communication, as well as content clients and strong recommendations.
Communicating Throughout the Project
A successful and smooth construction project hinges on effective communication.
As you and your project manager plan the scope and details of the construction, establish a clear chain of communication for the project. Who is responsible for communicating with suppliers, workers and subcontractors? If a problem arises, who do you contact for answers?
In most instances, the construction project manager will be your point of contact for any questions or concerns. They will handle communication between you and the rest of the construction team. Ensure that every person who contributes to the construction knows their responsibilities and roles within the project — keeping every member of the process informed is vital to a project with few setbacks and disruptions.
To make the construction as non-intrusive as possible, begin communication with your employees long before the project starts. Let them know when the project will begin and why, as well as any potential inconveniences. The key to few complaints and disruptions is plenty of forewarning — if a specific phase of construction will be louder than others, send out an email to your employees recommending they bring headphones to work on those days.
Effective communication is key to a non-disruptive and efficient construction project, so it is vital to choose a project manager and contractor who makes it a priority.
The Team That Prioritizes Safety, Quality and Performance
The ideal construction partner possesses professional knowledge, expert skill and varied experience with a range of diverse projects.
At Houck, our team of expert technicians provides the highest quality service and craftsmanship. We take pride in our work and are dedicated to realizing your project goals. Contact us today to plan your next major construction project.
Repair work started last week. On Monday, crews spread mortar in order to even out the steps.
Lawrence Miller, CEO of Stonemore, the company that owns the cemetery, had promised to fix the memorial. He told ABC27 that progress had been stalled for months.
Hartman said he felt comfort now that work has started.
“For that to be restored, it makes me feel like I am honoring my parents and many of the other ones that are buried in here now,” he said.
Work on the monument could last until October.
Click here to view the story.