Here are three components shaping commercial construction.
By Tom Tomaszewski
Construction remains a major contributor to the U.S. economy, employing more than 7 million workers and creating nearly $1.3 trillion worth of new structures each year. The industry spending notched its seventh consecutive year of growth in 2018 and in Indiana, construction contributed $13.4 billion of the state’s GDP of $352.3 billion. Nationwide, the construction industry contributed $874.9 billion in the first quarter of 2019 to the U.S. economy.
Furthermore, revenue for the commercial construction industry, has grown substantially over the past five years. In an effort to provide better construction solutions and reduce waste, the industry is seeing more and more companies implement new, innovative strategies and protocols that are beginning to change the trajectory of commercial construction. As we enter the third quarter of the year, these are the four major trends making the largest impact on commercial construction today.
Lean and Offsite Construction
Growing in popularity, offsite construction has already begun to improve efficiency on a massive scale as it helps eliminate hazards like weather conditions during the development process and improves productivity. In the National Institute of Building Sciences Off-Site Construction Council’s recent report of the 2018 Off-Site Construction Industry Survey, more than 87 percent of participants — construction managers, general contractors, engineers, trade contractors, architects, owners and developers — claimed they had used offsite construction in some form in the previous 12 months and more than 81 percent plan to do so again in the future.
By designing and manufacturing the building elements in a controlled environment, companies are capable of accomplishing more with fewer skilled workers and less dollars. In fact, a study shows transitioning to offsite manufacturing has the potential to reduce the labor costs on a project by up to 25 percent while accelerating project timelines by 20 to 50 percent.
Offsite construction also helps companies better calculate material requirements with the added technology and resources, saving them hundreds by allowing them to buy in bulk. When you combine all the benefits of offsite construction, including faster turnaround time, we’re confident more developers will look to adopt the strategy moving forward.
Focusing on sustainable practices, lean construction takes advantage of pro-environmental materials, like solar power panels, to maximize energy consumption while designing the building footprint. With 70 percent of a craftsperson’s day wasted on field coordination, this method also helps reduce motion waste by leveraging previously mentioned construction tech. The end results are convenient to both direct and indirect community stakeholders.
In a world increasingly influenced by technology, the adoption and implementation of construction tech was inevitable. Many companies are now embracing numerous technological advancements and thus reaped substantial rewards.
For instance, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are being leveraged to more precisely scale projects – allowing teams near and far to fully immerse themselves into the virtual space. VR is completely changing the game by making it possible to create detailed, accurate models in the beginning stages of development, at a fraction of the cost.
Construction has also seen a spike in the usage of cameras and drones for project management, site monitoring, progress updates and even marketing. Companies like Truelook are providing live updates and added security, while drones’ superior endurance and intelligence are changing the way sites operate. From eliminating much of the human error involved in the process and elevating onsite security and safety to even improving infrastructure by almost completely removing the need for onsite skilled labor, as the construction industry continues to evolve, corporations are beginning to acquire and invest more into construction tech – making us believe that technology is the future of construction.
The design/build method has quickly gained more traction throughout the construction industry. Instead of contracting both a designer and construction contractor, this method allows a company to contract a single entity to perform both design and construction of the project. The method has become more attractive to construction managers and general contractors because they help tighten both budgets and timelines. From start to finish, designers and contractors share decision-making and project recommendations with the owner-cultivating a more collaborative environment in comparison to traditional contracting arrangements.
For the past 10 years, our company has utilized design/build to deliver developments as it establishes a more unified and overall efficient experience – and others agree. According to the June 2018 “Design-Build Utilization” report, the design/build method is expected to represent 44 percent of construction put-in-place (CPiP) spending across many market segments by 2021.
A common theme amongst these components is their exceptional ability to increase efficiency. Given the rapid development of emerging commercial construction opportunities, we expect to see an influx of these variables leveraged in future developments to both streamline operations and deliver better buildings.
Tom Tomaszewski is chief operating officer of The Annex Group and president of Annex Construction.