Coming off a whirlwind of a year, the construction industry continues to grow and innovate in 2021. Clients demand more options from their builders and have higher expectations than ever before, creating a competitive market. But the industry is rising to the challenge. How has the past influenced the direction of the industry today? Below we walk through the five trends shaping the construction industry in 2021.
Modular construction is quickly becoming a preferred method of building in the construction industry. In modular design, a building is constructed off-site then put together on-site. This process allows for a shorter construction schedule, a greener building process, and smarter design.
Modular buildings meet all of the same codes as conventionally built structures, but the construction time can be cut in half, making modular design appealing to both contractors and their clients. This design method takes construction off-site and into controlled factory environments where there’s zero risk for interruptions due to weather. And because modular construction can happen at the same time as on-site work, there’s no waiting for other teams to complete their tasks.
The modular building process also creates less waste. Building crews can recycle used materials and control inventory. The buildings themselves can be refurbished or relocated, reducing the amount of energy and materials needed for a new project.
And lastly, modular design is utilized with efficiency in mind. Modular construction prioritizes cost-effective methods to create buildings quicker, safer, and cheaper than traditional, on-site construction methods. With all the benefits that modular construction offers, there’s no secret why it’s one of the top trends for the construction industry in 2021.
The construction industry plays a significant role in fossil fuel emissions, which contribute to climate change, one of today’s hot-button issues. Building operations combined with construction create nearly 40 percent of the global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. With an increasing worldwide awareness of the severity of climate change, the construction industry is taking real steps to reduce its impact on the environment.
Green building practices are increasing in popularity and for good reason. Construction industry professionals have much to gain by investing in environmentally friendly building practices. Homeowners and commercial clients alike demand green materials and green construction methods to create structures that reduce environmental impact. Sustainability is the name of the game for the construction industry in 2021. Industry business leaders are seeking ways to reduce material waste resulting from demolitions, switching to eco-friendly building materials, and choosing locally-sourced building products—plus more.
The construction industry knows the importance of sustainable practices and building materials. And construction clients are investing in companies who offer the sustainable, environmentally friendly practices they’re looking for. Not only do green building methods contribute to a more stable climate, but they reduce energy usage, saving the client thousands of dollars in electricity usage over time. Green building practices truly benefit everyone involved, and both residential and commercial clients prioritize construction companies that utilize these methods.
The United States houses one of the world’s largest construction industries with spending surpassing $1.29 billion in 2019. With a market that big—and growing—companies must keep up with the latest design technology to ensure they’re working as efficiently as possible.
Technology influences nearly every aspect of the construction industry. And perhaps the most popular tech used today is Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM reimagines the construction design and production process before it even begins. This design technology allows the user to create a virtual model of the building. In addition to improving design and drafting efficiency, BIM saves everyone on the project time and money.
BIM design technology enables builders to conceptualize and study the project before they even break ground. The virtual walkthrough of a building allows contractors to pinpoint any issues that might throw a wrench in the construction process before the team sets foot on site. This saves money both in the planning stages and during the building process when there’s no time for unforeseen issues or mishaps. Design technology has come a long way from the days of pencil and paper. Construction companies now use BIM to strategize and plan more efficiently and accurately than ever before.
Though the need for construction companies is growing, the workforce that powers this industry is shrinking. Since 2014, construction job openings have increased by 50 percent, but the number of new employees in the industry is only at 14 percent. Construction companies must find new, efficient ways to continue providing building services.
When a construction company doesn’t have the manpower to complete projects on time or to the quality standards expected, the client isn’t happy. But with no one to fill these roles, what options does a company have? Construction companies—and the industry as a whole—must innovate to make up for a decrease in workers. This can be through high-tech equipment, automation, or other building innovations that allow companies to complete projects without relying on a large workforce to get it all done.
Throughout 2020, construction companies navigated strict safety protocols while maintaining productivity. Mobile construction apps allowed the industry to continue to grow while keeping workers, clients, and contractors safe. Now into 2021, construction companies see the potential that remote worksites and mobile access offer for their bottom line.
Even before the pandemic, the construction industry was beginning to adopt digital tools and apps on the job site. These technologies enabled crews to provide accurate photo documentation to clients, contractors, and inspectors, allowing for some aspects of project completion to take place off-site. Many phases of construction can take place remotely, saving time and money for both the builder and the client. 2020 made this approach a necessity, and construction companies see that communication, documentation, and other tasks on the job site can occur remotely even as things are returning to normal. We expect to see more technological advancements that allow work to be done offsite which will allow projects to be completed faster than ever.
As you can see, 2021 is shaping up to be a great year for construction. With new innovations and high demand for service, the only way to go is up. Construction companies meet client wants and needs and continue to surpass expectations. New technologies enable companies to complete projects faster and cheaper than ever before. With a global pandemic in the rearview mirror, the US construction industry is gearing up for massive growth in 2021.