With the final weeks of 2015 winding down, this time of year is perfect for reflecting on the changes that have occurred within the past 12 months. Like construction jobs themselves, the construction industry has been hard at work. New paradigms are being built, and the focus is on bringing order and positive changes to the community with every completed project.
In 2015, these desires have led to some pretty remarkable developments — pun only slightly intended. In light of all this exciting news, we have narrowed down our four most interesting construction industry trends and emerging stories from the past year:
Construction Industry Trends in 2015
Green Building No Longer Niche
There was a time when those in the construction industry and certain segments of their customer base would scoff at the idea of worrying about energy efficiency. “Hippy stuff!” they would say.
Now, politics have taken a back seat to practicality. No matter what the leanings of your customer, touting a building as being LEED certified or using Energy Star materials is a positive draw. Rising energy costs and a focus on technological improvement are all encouraging the construction industry and the buildings they make to do more with less.
As issues like fossil fuel scarcity, climate change and independence from foreign oils become more pertinent with each passing day, expect Green Building practices to become less of a bonus and more of an expectation for construction projects in the future.
Mobile technologies like GPS, geo-fencing and geo-targeting allow sophisticated procedures to happen even while the foreman is miles away from the site. Backyard pools can be measured within centimeters of accuracy, equipment use can be monitored and progress can be tracked from anywhere at any time thanks to an increase in sensing technologies and the efforts of savvy app developers.
Along with the more sophisticated analysis tasks, technology can help simplify the office tasks that often make a construction project manager feel more like a corporate middle manager. Products like Procore, eSub and others help job supervisors manage daily tasks and track job progress to ensure that everything happens according to schedule. Likewise, menial tasks like clocking employee hours and handling payroll have been simplified, all without a single sheet of paper being used. (Don’t forget that that there is a difference between employees and independent contractors. Make sure you don’t get penalized for employee misclassification).
While technological advancement has empowered many smaller construction firms to get the leg up that they needed, the construction industry as a whole seems to be shifting towards consolidation. Earth-shattering developments like the Standard Pacific/Ryland merger have signaled a larger trend in smaller firms being bought out and larger firms vertically integrating former industry partners.
These changes can be positive, such as an architect firm now being a branch of a builder’s business. However, they also raise concerns for the ability of smaller construction firms to compete with the big guys, who are only getting bigger.
What Will Construction Industry Trends in 2016 Bring?
These changes are just a smattering of all that has happened in 2015. Tiny houses, 3D printing, robot laborers, heavy equipment sharing and other trends have also helped paint a rich, dynamic picture of the year before.
Who knows what 2016 will look like? All we can do is look at the foundation 2015 built and wonder what the future could have in store.