Autodesk’s 2021 Construction Report: “The Market Is Back”

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Robison Wells
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Autodesk published its 2021 Construction Outlook, which analyzes the current construction situation and forecasts the upcoming year. In an interview with Forbes, Autodesk Senior VP and General Manager, Jim Lynch, gave an optimistic assessment: “The big takeaway is that the market is back.”

In the report’s Growth section, Autodesk says the non-residential market will bounce back, noting the most significant year-on-year growth in healthcare (9.6%), office buildings (7.4%), and general commercial construction (6.6%). That said, the report does point out that a traditional lag time exists of 12-18 months, meaning that the massive 24% drop in new starts from 2020 will still be a significant concern throughout the remainder of the year, and most of the natural growth won’t happen until late in the year or early 2022.

On the other hand, residential construction showed the last five months of 2020 to be the highest monthly totals since 2004-2006, and growth in 2021 will continue.

In the Labor section of the report, a surprising 50% of contractors reported that they didn’t lose any headcount during the pandemic, and 23% added employees. 81% said that they have a shortage of supervisors and managers, while only 2% lacked architects (the lowest percentage among all groups).

In Supply Chain, 95% of contractors reported slowed or delayed projects due to lack of material, with 75% saying it was their number one concern. Autodesk economists foresee that these shortages will continue for 18-24 months. Lumber and plywood have seen the most considerable price increase, with a nationwide average of 45%. Concrete, on the other hand, has only risen 3%. These costs together mean that an average single-family home costs $17,000 more to build this year than 12 months ago.

According to Autodesk’s annual report, construction steams full speed ahead as 2020’s lag in building moves into the rearview mirror. The full report is available on Autodesk’s website.

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