Construction Trends to Watch for in the New Year

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Robison Wells
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We’ve talked about a lot of construction trends over the past year—some growing and some waning—but here are five things that we feel confident about saying will be dominant trends in construction in 2020.

1. 3D Printing. Almost every week there’s a new story about a 3D printed roof, or a 3D printed wall, and there have even been recent stories about entire houses being printed—an entire neighborhood in Mexico is being printed to alleviate homelessness. It’s safe to say that construction is no different from any other manufacturing operation, and that we’ll see 3D printing booming in the new decade. The 3D printing market is expected to reach $56 million in 2021, according to the publication 3D Natives.

2. Sustainability. This one may be a gimme. Sustainability has been a growing trend in construction for years, but we’re seeing an even bigger boom on the horizon. What was once a gimmick for hippies and environmentalists, sustainability is becoming part of more and more building codes, mandating that the work become more environmentally friendly. Whether it is using engineered wood instead of steel, or using concrete that can generate and store energy, these innovations will make the future a cheaper and cleaner place to live. One notable trend we expect to see more of is the use of recycled materials, particularly plastics.

3. Robotics. It seems that there’s always a new story about robotics in the industry—we just ran another one last week about a brick layer—but there’s no denying that as labor shortages loom and companies seek to cut costs and gain efficiency, robots are the way of the future. One report from the World Economic Forum dubbed 2020 the Year of the Robot for the construction industry. Whether they’re lay bricks, lifting materials, roaming and scanning jobsites, helping with demolitions, or even washing windows, robots are proving to be a lifesaver—a literal lifesaver in some cases.

4. Modular Construction. We’ve seen the Lego-like project that are cropping up from houses to hotels, but expect to see a lot more of it. Companies are finding that the ability to manufactur offsite and deliver modular components—or in some cases, entire modular housing units—is more efficient, safer, and less affected by conditions like weather. And it requires less time on the jobsite, as a pre-fabbed structure can go up much faster than something that has to be built on the site—less traffic, less noise-polution, happier neighbors, and a building can go up in the fraction of the time it takes a normal project.

5. Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is the process of creating and managing a project from start to finish, from blueprint to capstone. This intelligent 3D-modelling process is gaining traction everywhere, from architects to owners to engineers to site managers. By being able to see the entire project at the same time, in real time, all of these stake holders can fix problems before they come up.

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