17 Essential construction industry trends to watch

From technology to industry costs, here's everything to keep your eye on through '23/24

17 Essential construction industry trends to watch

Staying up to date on construction trends is crucial, as it gives your company an edge over competitors and allows you to get ahead. While the industry has hesitated to innovate, sooner or later, it will be a requirement to sustain industry growth.

Here are some notable construction industry trends that are predicted to last, with the potential to revolutionize this continuously growing sector.

17 important trends in the construction industry

Here are the most relevant construction trends to take note of.

1. The long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

While the World Health Organization has declared that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a global emergency, this worldwide crisis has affected construction companies in the long term, with ripple effects that have seen no end in sight.

Inflation has hit full force, and continuous supply chain disruptions have led to price fluctuations and material shortages, narrowing the already razor-thin margins that most construction firms deal with. 

Major projects have also seen delays and cancellations, cutting construction revenue and reducing cash flow as companies have had to lay off workers and postpone prospective projects.

This unfortunate trend is expected to continue as a recession looms on the horizon, and any significant negative impacts on the industry throughout the years will likely take ample time to recover from.

2. Interest in construction drones

On a much more positive note, construction industry trends 2023 has seen include the increased use (or interest in use) of drones in construction projects.

While technological adoption still remains a struggle for the construction industry, drones offer a number of benefits, allowing professionals to more effectively survey construction sites to monitor safety and project quality.

These compact aircraft collect valuable data that professionals can then focus on analyzing, reducing the amount of time that needs to be spent traveling to and remaining on job sites.

3. The application of AI and machine learning for construction

On the subject of construction technology, construction industry trends have seen the application of AI and machine learning to construction processes.

As it can handle large amounts of data, AI and machine learning for problem-solving and pattern recognition can be used throughout all phases of a construction project, addressing the industry’s most pressing challenges, whether it’s labor shortages, delays, or cost overruns.

Applications include safety monitoring, cost prediction through historical data, improved designs via generative construction, and risk identification and mitigation. 

The application of AI and machine learning stands to be one of the most innovative trends in the construction industry, as it allows for automation that will address the industry’s ever-present labor shortage and productivity problem. 

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4. Virtual and augmented reality used for construction

Another exciting construction industry technology trend is the emergence of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. These tools help professionals visualize job sites anywhere, anytime.

For example, companies might use these visualization tools to conduct virtual walkthroughs for clients and stakeholders who are unable to physically visit the job site.

Even when in-person visits are possible, virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality programs can provide users with a more detailed view of the project than would otherwise be possible.

5. The integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Continuing on the subject of technology, construction industry trends 2023 offers also include the increased use of BIM to improve design processes and streamline workflows. BIM isn’t a new concept, but as a process, it’s evolved over time to fit the needs of modern construction.

Using software for 3D modeling that integrates data provided by various stakeholders has been proven to enhance information exchange and communication, reduce the likelihood of error and construction mistakes, and boost ROI.

These benefits have been substantial and noted by numerous construction firms, explaining why this trend will likely be here to stay.

6. Use of construction resource management software

Prior to COVID-19, a number of construction companies were managing resources without software. This has been no secret, as consulting firms have long been critical of the industry’s overall slowness to adopt available technology.

Increased reliance on remote workers has forced many construction companies to rethink their lack of technology. In many cases, this means adopting dedicated resource management platforms and other construction project management tools.

7. Prefabrication for quicker construction

Construction industry trends have also included more firms making use of prefabrication. Prefabrication isn’t exactly a new method, but it’s being increasingly used in construction processes in revolutionary ways, especially for the construction of hotels, schools, and hospitals.

Companies that have made use of prefabrication have noted increased productivity and decreased project costs, improving results for greater client satisfaction.

8. An emphasis on environmental friendliness

Over the past several years, there’s been a persistent march towards environmentally-friendly processes in all aspects of commerce and manufacturing. Construction has been no different.

The previously-mentioned trend of prefabrication is just one of many ways construction companies have improved the environmental friendliness of their projects. 

Net-zero energy homes are also becoming increasingly popular, as are improved construction carbon footprint calculators.

9. Workplace safety improvements

Improved safety comes next on our list of trends in the construction industry. Safety has always been a paramount concern in the construction industry, as the sector faces one of the highest rates of workplace injury and death. Over the years, technologies to address this issue have been developed and deployed.

Virtual and augmented reality are two of them, as workers can better visualize projects without having to place themselves in situations where potential injury could occur.

Equipment used by workers has also been improved to come equipped with features that help supervisors track metrics for greater job site safety.

10. Infrastructure investments to safeguard existing works

Experts have consistently identified infrastructure as a key area for investment in North America. McKinsey & Company, for example, pointed out that a partial shutdown of the Hudson River rail tunnel in New York City would cost $16 billion and slash 33,000 jobs. Both effects would be severely damaging to New York’s economy—and, indeed, that of the entire country.

Increased understanding of North America’s decaying infrastructure has led to calls for “closing the infrastructure gap” by raising spending in this area to its higher historical averages.

Construction firms that specialize in infrastructure will need to prepare for the greater demand that such a hike in spending would produce.

11. Efforts to address labor shortages

Construction industry trends 2023 includes also factors in initiatives to resolve the industry’s issue of labor scarcity, which has persisted throughout the years and was made worse by the pandemic.

Construction companies are making strides in filling position openings and must continue to do so as the industry continues to grow. This may include enlisting the help of recruiting agencies, making jobs more attractive to prospective candidates by increasing pay and benefits, and so on.

12. Increased hesitation toward P3 contracts

One construction market trend that may prove challenging as companies look to increase infrastructure spending is increased trepidation toward P3 contracts.

In 2019, multinational giant Skanska announced it would no longer bid on projects using P3s due to, among many things, their fixed-price nature. Construction cost overruns are very common on such large and lengthy projects, which leaves companies making massive write-downs.

Skanska took a whopping $327 million in write-downs in 2018, some of which is reportedly attributable to the I-4 Ultimate Highway P3 project in Orlando.

Several other companies, including Granite Construction and Fluor, indicated similar objections to these types of projects.

13. Greater availability of mobile technology

Construction industry trends have included the increased use of mobile technologies. There’s been a trend of software that can be used on desktops having mobile apps developed, allowing professionals to access mini-versions of software platforms on the go.

14. Rising construction industry costs

The cost of construction materials and wages has risen dramatically thanks to everything from trade issues to regulation and, of course, supply chain shortages caused by COVID-19.

These rising costs create additional pressure on the construction industry and workers tasked with monitoring costs.

15. Better management of big data via software

Another one of the trends in the construction industry is the increased use of big data. Construction as an industry deals with huge volumes of data concerning project specifications, financial information, and employee data.

With that amount of data, parsing through it can be tedious and time-consuming, which is why software solutions that help with big data management have seen greater use. Construction data, after all, can be valuable in decision-making, but only when utilized properly.

16. New and innovative building materials and techniques

Construction industry trends 2023 has seen include the development of innovative materials and techniques. As the climate crisis worsens, there’s been greater pressure to conduct construction in an eco-friendly manner that minimizes environmental damage and cuts back on carbon emissions.

Efforts have included the recycling of waste and the use of more sustainable materials like engineered wood (to prevent mass deforestation) and bamboo (which has a faster growth period compared to timber).

17. Continued material shortages

Another negative trend on our list of construction industry trends is the continued material shortages that the sector has grappled with.

This has in part been due to transportation difficulties, as driver shortages and rising fuel costs become a primary concern. Extreme weather has also been another factor in transportation complications.

The result has been a tight market that’s seen greater material costs.

Bridgit Bench is your solution for workforce management

Staying up to date on trends in the construction industry is crucial to get ahead and survive as a company. The trends listed in this article will continue to shape the future of this growing sector, so you’ll want to take note of them and act accordingly.

One vital aspect of streamlining your construction processes to obtain competitive advantage is improving the way you manage labor. For this, consider Bridgit Bench. Our dashboard views allow you to capitalize on existing skilled workers and identify where improvements are needed.
Request a demo with Bridgit today.

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Michel Richer

Michel Richer is the Manager of Content and Product Marketing at Bridgit. He started in the construction industry early on with a local restoration company. Michel is driven to propel the construction industry forward by helping to eliminate outdated, ineffective processes.

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