In 2020, the pandemic changed how everyone did business, especially the construction industry. Looking at 2021, businesses will continue to evolve due to the COVID-19 fallout. In addition, the construction industry is also being impacted by the rise of new technology, as well as a rise in construction costs, labor shortages, and stricter regulations, all contributing to the industry’s major trends. Those trends will impact safety and security, changing how you assess the risks and liabilities associated with a project. Here are The Top 7 Construction Trends for 2021:
- More Efficient Technology
For better tracking, increased security, and faster closeouts, construction companies are increasing their use of smart contracts. Having an online system for signing and storing contracts makes remote work easier, and it allows for all parties involved to have access to paperwork.
Another fast-growing trend is the use of drone technology; it’s being used to rapidly map large areas and produce aerial heat maps and thermal imaging. Project managers are using this data to make quicker decisions on the job, streamlining the construction process. The augmented reality (AR) market is also significantly growing. AR tech is allowing developers to use 360-degree video to create 3D visualizations, measure buildings automatically, and simulate architectural changes.
- Increase in Female and Gen Z Laborers
Needing more laborers in the industry has been a trend for some years, and the data produced by new technology is increasing that need, requiring more educated workers to manage and interpret the data. Statistics show women are helping fill the gaps with a 94 percent growth in female-owned firms from 2007 to 2018. 30% of construction companies also promoted a woman to a senior position in 2018. Like women, Generation Z is also stepping in to fill open spots. The pandemic shifted attitudes toward alternative education, changing negative perceptions toward attending trade schools and increasing interest in them.
- Rising Material Costs
According to the Association of General Contractors, the Producer Price Index for construction goods rose 5% from 2017 to 2020. Rising interest rates are likely to impact costs all around putting pressure on total construction costs. New innovations of materials are also impacting initial costs, materials such as self-healing concrete, translucent wood, and invisible solar cells.
- Green Building
Green building and sustainable construction are becoming more mainstream, meaning prices for those features, usually considered a luxury, are becoming more affordable. For example, the cost of solar panels has significantly decreased, making them more affordable for home builders, many of whom are willing to pay a little extra to be kinder to the environment or reap cost savings over time. Businesses investing in green construction are acknowledging the high, long-term value, and more are making moves toward eliminating or off-setting their “carbon footprint.”
- Modular and Offsite Construction
The modular and prefab construction market is predicted to increase to almost $110 billion in the next five years. Many major international builders say they plan to pare down their on-site construction to just 25%, favoring prefab construction, and manufacturers haven’t been greatly affected by the pandemic.
- The Use of Mobile and Remote Access
Adoption of digital resources providing remote and mobile access significantly increased due to the pandemic and will continue to do so. Mobile apps are allowing real-time inspections, more on-site accountability, and accurate measurements. Some projects are even able to utilize remote technology for official approval processes. With a continued need for social distancing, those without mobile tools now risk being at a productivity disadvantage.
- A Focus on Residential Projects
With the influx of remote work and less need for office space, many developers have announced a focus on residential projects, especially with the rise in home sales and the need for housing in smaller cities. Residential construction spending in the private sector saw a 7% increase in 2020, and privately-owned housing construction increased almost 13%.
While construction sites remain hazardous workplaces with great risk and liability, the use of these new technologies is allowing for better, real-time decision-making and more remote work, two factors helping to create safer spaces. Improvements in data collection by new technologies will also help insurers more accurately assess risks.