5 Construction Industry Trends in 2019

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In 2019, construction industry trends welcome advancements in building methods and materials; however, the industry still struggles with ongoing labor shortages. Construction in the U.S. is forecast to grow almost 3 percent in 2019, slightly lower than in 2018. In 2019, the top-performing segments include transportation (+9 percent), public safety (+6 percent), educational (+5 percent), and manufacturing (+5 percent).

Five construction industry trends in 2019 include: energy-efficient construction, continued labor shortages, disaster-resistant construction, more technology, and insulated concrete forms (ICF) construction.

1. Energy-Efficient Construction in 2019

A major construction trend in 2019 includes energy-efficient building methods that achieve net-zero energy use and high indoor environmental quality (IEQ). Essential attributes of an energy-efficient building incorporate a tightly sealed thermal envelope, energy-efficient doors, windows, and electronics, controlled ventilation, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Energy-efficient construction trends also include a whole-building system approach, continuous insulation, and the use of thermal mass materials.

2. Trends to Combat Skilled Labor Shortages in Construction

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One of the biggest challenges facing contractors in 2019 is a shortage of skilled labor. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported that in late 2018, 80 percent of construction firms had a hard time filling hourly craft positions. Blame for the labor shortage is due to the industry having trouble recruiting younger workers and current immigration policies.

Tight labor market conditions are pushing many construction firms to change the way they operate, recruit, and compensate workers.

  • 62 percent of construction firms are increasing base pay rates because of the difficulty in filling positions.
  • 24 percent of construction firms are improving employee benefits.
  • 25 percent of construction firms are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers.
  • 25 percent of construction firms are increasing their use of labor-saving equipment and virtual construction methods such as BIM.
  • 47 percent of construction firms are increasing prices on their bids.
  • 44 percent of construction firms report that projects that are already underway cost more because of labor shortages.
  • 46 percent of construction firms report it is taking longer than originally scheduled to complete projects.

27 percent of construction firms are increasing completion times into their bids because of workforce shortages.

3. Disaster-Resilient Construction in 2019

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The devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and fire events of recent years have put storm- and fire-resistant building design at the top of the list of 2019 construction trends. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey alone caused $180 billion damage. Specifically, Harvey damaged 203,000 homes, destroying 12,700. In 2018, tornadoes killed 10 people and floods killed 80 people. Nearly 25 percent of the flooding fatalities in 2018 were from Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.

Fire-resistant construction is vital for protecting buildings and their occupants against increasing wildfires in the U.S.In 2018, the most destructive wildfire on record occurred in California, burning over 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures and killing 85 people.

Wind-Resistant Design

Wind-resistant design and construction must protect against severe wind and flying debris. A continuous load path is vital to holding a structure together, particularly during the high winds of a hurricane and tornado. A continuous load path makes sure that when a load — including lateral (horizontal) and uplift loads — attacks a building or home, the load will move from the roof, walls and other elements to the foundation and into the ground. A strong continuous load path is crucial to holding the roof, walls, floors, and foundation together during a strong wind event.

Flood-Resistant Design

Building a flood-resistant structure is an important construction trend in 2019. Flood-resistant buildings must protect against flooding associated with both excessive rain, tides, and storm surges. Also, the design of a building constructed in a flood hazard zone must be in accordance with the American Society of Civil Engineers 24 (ASCE 24). Flood-resistant design in a flood hazard zone must include elevated structures, materials that can get wet, and design systems that quickly dry when exposed to moisture.

Fire-Resistant Design

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Fire-resistant design must include passive fire protection, with fireproof roofs, windows, doors, vents, and exterior walls. Passive fire protection minimizes the spread of smoke and fire through vertical openings and stops the collapse of a structure with fire partitions, firewalls, smoke barriers, and horizontal assemblies.

4. Technology Trends in the Construction Industry

Trends in construction technologies aim to help the industry contend with ongoing challenges with productivity, labor, safety, and profitability. Technology can help companies do more with less while continuing to meet rising demands in construction. Several trends in construction technology include autonomous machinery, robotics, cloud-based construction software, drones, building information modeling, and virtual and augmented reality.

5. Insulated Concrete Form Construction

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ICF construction is gaining popularity because ICF offers reduced labor costs, faster construction, improved comfort, and greater energy-efficiency and safety ratings over traditional building methods. Notably, a recent report by the global ICF market predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for ICF construction of 27.5 percent between 2017 and 2022, the majority of which is happening in the U.S.

Benefits of ICF Construction

  • ICF construction creates high-performance energy-efficient buildings that exceed building code demands for tighter building envelopes and CI.
  • ICF construction provides security by creating disaster-resistant buildings that will protect the structure and its residents from severe winds, floods, and fires.
  • ICF construction creates structures with excellent indoor environmental quality.
  • ICF construction provides many financial benefits, including higher rents, lower utility bills, improved occupancy, and added long-term value to a building project
  • Fox Blocks ICF construction reduces labor costs and improves completion schedules because Fox Blocks ICF is an all-in-one wall system that integrates five steps into one fast and easy installation.