Five Construction Industry Trends You Don’t Want to Miss in 2021
In the first quarter of 2020, the construction industry added more than $900 billion to the U.S. economy. Then, we saw the effects of COVID-19, which caused the construction industry to lose $60.9 billion in GDP and approximately 6.5 million jobs. This disruption led to trends like remote work and social distancing, as well as higher construction costs, shifts in resources, and cash flow disruptions. Still, despite the uncertainty of the times, some trends seem to be rising to the surface as we close out the year. Here are five construction trends you will want to pay attention to.
Safer, Cleaner Construction Sites
This one should not come as a surprise. Safety in the construction industry has always been of the utmost importance, but in the new environment, we find ourselves due to the global pandemic we are putting it at the top of our list. Safety-conscious contractors will focus on enhanced equipment and sanitation protocols.
Social distancing on a job site is not easy, but it has become a must. You should plan for smaller crews and staggering employee shifts to keep the job site less crowded. We also expect to see an increased need for cleaning routines and procedures. Employees who have in the past shared tools, gloves, hard hats, and other equipment likely no longer feel comfortable doing so. Project managers should plan to have enough tools and equipment for all their workers, which would allow employees to write their names on their own personal tools and protective gear.
Enhancements in Construction Equipment
While some still doubt the efficiencies of technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) in the construction sector, recent studies show that it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a must-have. This new technology has the potential to vastly reduce job site accidents, construction waste, off-site management, and construction costs.
How does this work? The idea is to enhance your equipment and connect it to the Internet of Things so that workers can maximize efficiencies by improving estimates, cutting waiting times, and reducing waste. Other objectives that can be achieved by using the Internet of Things are:
- Project progress tracking
- Construction site monitoring
- Remote equipment control and people management
- Day-to-day task management
Drones for Full Construction Site Visibility
We suspect to see more and more drones on construction sites. Aerial views of a project can help contractors gather valuable information. Contractors that use drones on-site can quickly discover safety issues, accurately estimate material quantities, and create more accurate maps and measurements. Having more safety information can help keep workers safe and reduce insurance claims, and having an accurate quantity of materials can lead to manpower adjustments. As a result, your worksite drones could help you achieve significant financial savings while keeping your employees as safe as possible.
Modular construction is the process of constructing a building off-site and then putting it together on-site – in half the time and without compromising quality. This type of construction was already on the rise before the pandemic, and we believe there will be a boost in interest in the post-COVID era because of the cost savings it can provide.
Modular construction projects can save you roughly 20 percent and can be completed 20-50 percent faster than regular construction projects. How is this possible? The cost of a project is dependent on its size, site, and design complexity. With modular projects, you typically need less labor and fewer materials, which saves you money.
Additionally, you can build modular projects in a way that is ideal for safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. Since roughly 90 percent of the building takes place in a large, well-ventilated building, workers have plenty of room for social distancing.
With society becoming more environmentally conscious, you should continue to look for ways to incorporate sustainable building materials into your projects. In a survey sent to over 2,000 international contractors, builders, and developers a few years ago, almost half reported that they expect to build more than 50 percent of their projects as green buildings by 2021.
Common sustainable building materials you can use in your next project include:
- Bamboo: This is a cost-effective, quick-growing material that is easy to harvest.
- Wood: Wood absorbs carbon dioxide and requires less energy-intensive processing methods.
- Recycled plastic: Plastic has a lifespan of 30-50 years, making it a durable and long-lasting building material.
Other alternatives we expect to see more of in 2021 include composite roofing shingles, insulated concrete framing, solar panels, and eco-friendly insulation.
While it’s hard to predict the future, we can look at past and current trends to make an educated guess. This list of five trends should give you a glimpse of some aspects that could influence the construction industry for years to come.
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