by Asha Echeverria, Shareholder, Bernstein Shur
Welcome to the new decade! Though we can expect trends from 2019 to continue, the focus on the new decade and the bull construction environment will force many trends to advance by leaps and bounds. Many of these trends will create opportunities for those in the construction industry, but also legal challenges related to privacy, risk allocation, and project control. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – we hope we can be of assistance as you move into this brave new decade.
Automated and Digital Technologies: Though we may still be waiting for flying cars, advanced technologies are entering the construction site in several functions.
- Drones continue to play an expanding role on project sites, from completing inspections in areas dangerous to workers to surveying and mapping sites.
- Automation of highly repetitive tasks, like bricklaying and tying rebar, can improve productivity, increase safety and respond to the industry’s labor shortage.
- Cloud technology connects job sites to make information instantaneously available to all members of a project team anywhere in the world.
- Remote site monitoring, personnel location tracking, and wearable sensors allow contractors to track workforce and increase safety, which can support efficiency and productively while reducing costs related to liability and insurance.
Infrastructure Opportunities: With the 2020 federal budget allocating $200 billion for infrastructure priorities, this year will likely see the start of many overdue infrastructure revitalization and upgrade projects. These projects will have a significant effect on the construction industry – driving revenues and job creation. Though the federal government’s investment is significant, it falls short of the trillions needed to repair our deteriorating infrastructure, therefore projects will look to private funding, through public-private partnerships (P3s) and other innovative funding mechanisms, to keep projects in the black.
Modular & Prefabricated Construction: Modular and prefabrication construction companies continue to carve out a niche in the industry due to their ability to construct residential and commercial buildings, especially repetitive structures like hotels and apartment buildings, efficiently and cost-effectively. Modular and prefabricated construction can reduce or eliminate issues related to limited site or lay down areas, weather, and labor limitations. In line with the next point on sustainability, modular and prefabricated construction tends to create less waste and allow for the reuse and recycling of materials.
Urbanization & Sustainability: With 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, from today’s 55%, urban and environmental sustainability will be essential to improve urban quality of life. To support this need, efforts in areas like sustainable buildings, smart and public transportation, water efficiency and conservancy, and renewable energy are coming to the forefront, even in Maine. Sustainable construction goes beyond LED lighting and low-flow toilets, but encompasses the entire process – from design, to material sourcing, to construction, and through commissioning.
Rising Costs & Labor Shortages: Though there is much to be excited about in the new decade, increasing material costs due to increased demand and uncertainty in the political arena will likely affect contractors. In addition, as many contractors know, filling skilled worker positions and even professional-level positions is difficult given the demand all over the state, New England, and even the country for such labor. Both issues together will result in an unavoidable increase in costs in 2020 – requiring contractors to be more efficient and utilize strict project controls to make their profit margin.
Originally published on January 28, 2020 – https://www.bernsteinshur.com/what/publications/the-construction-advantage-34/