The construction industry is going to flourish in 2016.
According to Dodge Data and Analytics, the U.S. construction industry will rise 9% to $612 billion over the next year, trouncing 2014’s 5% gain to $564 billion. But this growth won’t be evenly dispersed, and the face of these construction companies is rapidly changing, both with how they do their work, and who (or what) is doing it. This coming year will bring big changes to the construction industry, and the trends outlined below will mark the start to a new era in construction.
1. Construction companies are going paperless.
Paper is so 2008. Technology is evolving at an exponential rate, it took less than 40 years to get from the first PC to the first iPad. With that, it took only 4 years to get from the first iPad to Google Glass. The gap between technological changes and organizational changes is just efficiency waiting to happen. Paperless construction is finally an attainable reality. This construction technology trend demonstrates how you can improve your punchlist and increase mobility, productivity and data collection using the cloud. Many companies are already switching over to construction management software including customer relationship management (CRM) applications with document management capabilities—saving (Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise or Acrobat) some companies up to $10,000 a year. With more construction managers choosing to write, process, and submit their RFDs, project updates, applications, LEED forms, invoices, and contracts online, even smaller remodeling companies will start making the switch.
2. Mobile apps with geo-fencing will boom in popularity
A geo-fence is a virtual barrier. It uses GPS to track where an object (like a cell phone) is. Contractors can cut back on physical site checks by equipping company vehicles with activity-monitoring software. For example, "geo-fencing" software alerts you or your fleet manager when a vehicle leaves a predefined area or when one is stopped when it shouldn't be.
Geo-fencing software can also alert you when a vehicle is entering the monitored area so you know, say, when work crews or supplies are arriving. These programs allow you to update owners and other interested parties (architects, subcontractors) on the exact locations and estimated arrival times of pertinent assets, too.
3. 3D printing will make its way onto more construction sites.
3D printing has been used over recent years to print small scale objects. However, some architects and other construction professionals are looking at introducing such printing as a new construction technology, so 3D printing: it’s flashy, it’s newsy, and it’s the future of the construction industry. With more commercial firms focusing in on green construction, cost-conscious managers will continue turning to this tool.
The construction industry is ready to take advantage of 3D printing and its benefits. This type of printing can be used for the creation of complex components or even for the construction of whole buildings.
Some of the advantages of using 3D printing in the construction industry are:
- Faster and accurate construction - a 3D printer transfers the digital model into a physical one; errors that arise can only be due to faults in the digital model or the materials used
- Reduced labour cost – a 3D printer does most of the work with minimal human effort
- Reduced waste generation – components can be printed to order during the construction phase; those that are not used can be recycled
- Reduced health and safety risks – by replacing dangerous jobs on site with printing processes
- Environmentally friendly – recycled products can be used to produce the construction materials used in 3D printers.
4. More commercial contracts will be green.
Green building is trendy and cost-effective. In fact, according to McGraw Hill Construction, up to 48% of new nonresidential construction projects will be green. That’s a $145 billion opportunity for construction firms. Additionally, the call to continue greening existing buildings will only continue to rise. And while there’s skepticism that LEED will keep dominating the green space, many firms will turn to green construction management software to help please their eco-conscious customers.
5. Micro-apartment contracts will boom.
Many Millennials and Generation Xers live in a closet - the cost of real state in a high-end neighborhood is quite expensive - but for Millennials and Xers - convenience is a commodity, hence they are the ideal demographic for real estate developers specializing in micro apartments. These tiny dwellings are finally gaining approval from city planners—which means more contracts for commercial builders. Construction companies should ready their bids across the country as this trend hits the mainstream.
I am sure that there will be more trends being adopted by construction and building maintenance companies to better their bottom-line as well as to satisfy their customer. I would like to invite you to comment and enlighten us!