Without question, today’s construction industry is stronger than ever, even in the face of labor shortages and increasing material costs. Howard Wilner, President of Automax Pre-Owned in Framingham, Massachusetts explores some of the trends facing the construction industry in 2019.
Expansion of technology
The construction industry has never been more important than it is currently. Technologies are being transformed, which will change the face of the industry forever. Contractors, for example, are going digital — meaning that cloud computing is quickly becoming the preferred way of doing business. This allows contractors to have access to up-to-the-minute data which can be easily shared between all members of the back office and project teams. This is also helping contractors save time, minimize risk and improve their overall productivity.
The labor shortage continues
One of the biggest issues facing the construction industry today is the skilled labor shortage. This stems from the 2008 recession, where many who worked in construction were forced to re-train and find other work. Other workers are aging out of the field, and new workers are less likely to choose construction work over other industries. This means that the construction industry is in the midst of a full-scale modernization, changing its recruitment practices, introducing new trade programming, and attracting minorities and women to the field. 78% of U.S. firms report difficulty finding workers to fill positions in the industry.
Modular construction is on the rise
In a bid to save costs and increase efficiency, modular construction is seeing an unprecedented rise. More and more contractors are turning to modular construction and pre-fabrication to complete their projects, which can be finished quickly and with less waste, says Howard Wilner. Modular construction also occurs in larger warehouses and factories, which reduces weather delays. The rapid expansion of modular construction has been seen by many as directly correlated to the labor shortage facing the industry. Modular construction also requires fewer skilled workers and can improve overall safety due to reduced hazards in a controlled factory environment.
Increased tariffs on materials
Another issue facing the construction industry is increased tariffs on materials such as steel, aluminum, plywood and tiling. This is largely the result of ongoing trade wars and steep tariffs on goods imported from countries such as China. These tariffs may also lead to increased demand for — and rising costs of — domestic building materials, explains Howard Wilner. This, of course, means that prices for consumers will also increase.
The use of ‘green’ construction technologies
Environmental sustainability is key, and industries across North America are working to find ways to become more sustainable going forward. The construction industry is no exception. Greener technologies are being adapted in the form of building design which allows for reduced electrical costs, more natural light, and more efficient use of resources. Buildings are increasingly being recognized for their ‘green’ status, and contractors, architects and engineers are taking note.
The construction industry is one of the world’s largest industries, with over $1.2 billion in annual expenditures. Construction companies in the U.S. alone spend over $10 trillion in goods and services. The outlook for the construction industry is therefore a positive one overall, says Howard Wilner, provided labor shortages and rising construction costs are addressed and remedied as quickly as possible.
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