The construction industry needs new blood; labor shortages exist everywhere, and methods of attracting new hires increase in complexity.
The construction industry needs new blood; labor shortages exist everywhere, and methods of attracting new hires increase in complexity.
Despite the rapidly growing population, the pandemic-driven boom in residential housing sales and the high demand for builders with large backlogs, construction in the Lone Star State looks dismal.
Despite a tough eighteen months for the construction industry, residential construction proceeds at a break-neck pace. But increased costs and uncertain build schedules increase the difficulty of home construction. Construction spending sits 8.2% higher than one year ago.
Construction workers commit suicide at three times the national average. Within the construction industry, already the most dangerous profession, more workers die from suicide than job injuries and accidents. Construction has the second-highest suicide rate of any sector in the United States.
On the lighter side of construction, Budimex and refiner Lodos, a construction firm out of Poland, hit the headlines by introducing a new street construction product with one big design difference: the asphalt smells like flowers.
The green startup Nexii, based out of Pittsburgh, PA, also known as the "Steel City," offers an environmentally friendly concrete product that they say will be better than steel in some applications. Michael Keaton, the Pennsylvania native actor, joins Nexii to provide financial backing and a place in Trinity Sustainable Solutions. Trinity intends to implement Nexii's concrete product into Walmart, Rite Aid, Goodwill, and CSX Transportation.
The controversial 58-story Millennium Tower in San Francisco, CA, continues to sink. As of February 2020, the tower had sunk 17 inches since it first opened in 2009. Recent readings show that, despite construction efforts to reinforce the building, it has descended another inch.
Last week, Hyundai Heavy Industries purchased Doosan Infracore, creating a combined company in the top ten largest global construction equipment manufacturers. The plan makes Doosan Infracore a subsidiary of Hyundai Genuine group, of which Hyundai Construction Equipment is also a subsidiary. Both Doosan and Hyundai are South Korean companies. After the purchase, they will continue to operate independently.
Both Disneyland and Disneyworld intend to use the pandemic’s attendance slowdown to update rides and attractions. Construction persists through the pandemic, preceded by Disney’s Star Wars-themed Galaxy’s Edge land, which opened for visitors just months before the theme parks closed in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic.
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, television stations and websites plan a flurry of retrospectives and oral histories. Many will feature the original workers, engineers, and owners who built the World Trade Center. History.com released an article about the 10-year-long construction effort; some of the highlights include:
Tech giant Apple intends to construct a new campus complex in San Jose that will cover 85 acres and include their north office. The building site contains a semi-permanent homeless encampment currently. Apple pledged to help the city deal with its homeless population.
According to new data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on August 12, nonresidential construction prices have increased 23.4% since this time last year, including a 0.8% increase over last month.
Chinese construction companies are preparing to build a line in Datong, North China's Shanxi Province, in which they will test the world's fastest ground vehicle—a low-vacuum maglev high-speed train with a top speed of 1000 km/h (621 mph).
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed in the Senate last week includes an investment in construction technology of $100 million spread over five years. The government intends to focus the funds on digital construction technologies such as BIM, 3D modeling software, and digital project management.
According to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) report in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the national construction unemployment rate dropped 2.6% in June compared to the same month last year. Forty-five states experienced decreases, though the rates have not rebounded back to pre-pandemic levels.
The U.S. Department of Energy launched a new initiative on July 7th that invests $6 million into adopting three proven nuclear power plant technologies. By forming a partnership with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, they hope to decrease costs by 10%.
Based in Oakland, CA, the construction technology company Mighty Buildings raised $22 million last month, increasing its total funding to more than $100 million as it goes after the sustainable construction market. Mighty Buildings pursues a goal of creating net-zero carbon emission homes by 2028.
Colorado courts sentenced Bryan Johnson, a contractor from Avon, CO, to 10 months in prison. He faced manslaughter and negligent homicide charges after a workplace accident left a man dead in 2018. Johnson didn’t go to trial; he pled guilty to two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of 3rd-degree assault causing injury.
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) released its report for May 2021, showing that the demand for architectural services is at a record high. The ABI measures demand through tracking signed contracts. It hit 58.5 in May, up from 57.9 in April. (Anything above 50 indicates an increase over the previous month. Anything lower than 50 marks a decrease.)
According to a new report from Associated Builders and Contractors, the construction industry—already short on workers before the pandemic—needs to hire 430,000 more laborers in 2021 for a total of 1,000,000before the end of 2022.
Construction companies understand their industry’s tendency to adopt new tech at a snail’s pace; this makes construction a major target for new tech startups, but there’s a catch.
Alison Killing, the first architect to win the Pulitzer prize, used her knowledge of construction and engineering to identify sites of forced labor camps in China. Killing, from England and now living in Rotterdam, studied architecture and engineering at Oxford. She took part in a community design program called 24 Hour Urban Action. The program studied architecture’s link to death camps throughout world history. In 2018 she met Megha Rajagoop, a journalist who had visited one of the camps; Killing decided to use her expertise to find more.
Dropping to the lowest price they've been since January, lumber fell 4% on Friday to $689 per thousand board feet; this represents a dramatic drop over the last nine weeks after the prices topped out at $1670 on May 7th.
The Manhattan Federal Court sentenced Vito Nigro, a New York construction executive, to 51 months in prison for evading taxes on more than $1.8 million in bribes he received from subcontractors.
A 2018 report noted significant flaws in the South Champlain Tower in Surfside, Florida, which collapsed nearly ten days ago. NPR exposed a series of presentations given to the residents in both the North and South Champlain Towers in the fall and winter of 2020. The major takeaway was, "we have to do all this right now."
After the death of seven construction workers so far this year in New York City, including three in May, the city’s Department of Buildings plans to crack down on safety violations.
Habitat for Humanity, the charity organization that builds homes for the disadvantaged, faces financial trials. The first blow came from the virus; safety precautions severely reduced the number of volunteers they could have onsite. The second came from the lack of revenue from closed ReStores, a chain of reuse stores Habitat for Humanity runs to partially fund their projects. The third blow came from supply chain issues—the same issues faced by all residential contractors.
After the federal government passed a bipartisan deal for $973 billion in infrastructure spending last Thursday, the S&P 500 posted its best week since April, closing out Friday at new record highs. Shares of construction giants Caterpillar, Martin Marietta Materials, and Vulcan Materials traded higher on the news.
As crews still search through the rubble of the Surfside, Florida condo that collapsed last week, new reports indicate that the building needed construction repairs as early as 2018.
Contractors know about massive price jumps in materials. Still, a new report from the federal government shows that non-residential construction input prices rose 23.9% in May over May of 2020, and the prices rose 4.8% since April.
A preliminary report issued by the Norwegian company DNV and other international experts—prepared at the request of the Mexican government—found that at least six construction violations led to the collapse of the metro train last month that killed 26.
A blistering heatwave torments the western United States. The heat significantly affects people who work outside, such as construction and farm laborers. In the past week, authorities have put advisories in place for an area containing more than 50-million residents.
A new report from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slowdown in construction over the past twenty years—primarily due to focus on single-family homes rather than multi-family houses. The result: a 5.5-million-unit shortfall.
Like the United States post-pandemic recovery plan, the European Union passed an €800 billion program to speed the continent's recovery. But now, construction executives and organizations warn that a rapid rise in construction costs may cause a significant speed bump in that plan and may stop the recovery altogether.
The University of Manchester and the British firm Nationwide Engineering plans to launch a new product: Concretene. Some consider it a gamechanger in concrete. Product creators tested Concretene on the construction of a gym floor in Amesbury, Wiltshire. Builders used 30% less material than standard concrete, without the need for steel reinforcement. Concretene creators claim that their product could save as much as 10-20% in costs.
As the founders of Build Change claim, it’s not the earthquake that kills people; it’s the collapse of poorly built structures. With the release of their new Intelligence Supervision Assistant for Construction app, they hope to save lives with open-source artificial intelligence.
Builders chatter about modular construction, particularly over the past few years. Even Warren Buffet entered the market with an ambitious venture into the technology. A new report projects modular construction to be worth $114 billion by 2028.
ABB, the Switzerland-based engineering group behind much of the world's automotive factories' robotic assembly lines, holds that the post-pandemic state of mass construction and labor shortage indicates a prime time to integrate robotics into the process.
The Swiss discovered a new way to get energy out of their dams, not through hydroelectric power. Axpo, a Switzerland-based company, partnered with power provider IWB, to use the broad, curved wall of the dam as a vertical surface for solar panels. The project's complexity lies in installing the panels 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level in the Alps.
The economy added 559,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate fell from 6.1% to 5.8%. However, despite the job gains and a massive labor shortage that has plagued construction, the industry lost a net 20,000 jobs; this comes after an April with no increase in construction jobs.
The exploding residential market continues to skyrocket, rising as quickly as manpower and material supplies can accommodate. And yet, new national data from the first quarter of 2021 shows that existing homes sell for higher prices than new construction.
Due to high demand, of all industries, construction perhaps most seamlessly weathered COVID-19. Hence, construction workers enjoy premium pay. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts construction employment adding 4% year-on-year from now through 2029, compared to a national job average of 3.7%. The BLS expects to see the most growth in solar photovoltaic installers (up 50.5%), tile and stone workers (up 8.6%), and electricians (up 8.4%).
Adroit Market Research announced that they expect the construction plastics market to reach $140.7 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.67%. Polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyethylene, polyurethanes, and other materials comprise the construction plastics market. Builders use these materials for various purposes, including roofing, walls and coverings, pipes and ducts, and windows.
Every construction company knows about the drastic shortage of skilled labor entering the market. Numerous polls cite this shortage as the number one or two concern among contractors, builders, and owners.
Earlier this month, New York City construction industry professionals debated the future of safety on the job site at the Commercial Observer’s third annual Construction Safety Forum. They reviewed what happened during coronavirus and what is expected to happen now.
Danny Forster Architecture, a New York firm, has partnered with MiTek Inc, a company owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, to create the Modular Activation Platform (MAP); they intend to solve some of the main problems with modular construction.
Californians face the increasing severity of wildfires at the beginning of fire season. The Los Angeles City Council seeks to slow fires with a new proposal: City Building Code Fire District 1 Expansion. This initiative expands fire safety measures in dangerous neighborhoods, such as Silver Lake and Pacific Palisades. The proposal severely limits the use of wood framing in large buildings (over 150,000 square feet).
With single-family home starts down 13% in April, compared to March, many potential homeowners wonder why a slowdown persists during a period of high demand. The answer: lack of workers and scarcity of building materials.
Amid the rise of autonomous vehicles, some wonder how these cars will react to unexpected events. A flurry of discussion ensued last year when one company prioritized the safety of their autonomous vehicles over that of pedestrians. A new video escalated tension; a car from the Waymo autonomous taxi service in Chandler, Arizona, experienced trouble handling interaction with road construction.
A recent consensus from the American Institute of Architects predicted an 11% decrease in office construction. Tech-driven cities such as Manhattan, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area drive the growth. Builders constructed 25 million square feet of office space in the first two months of 2021, with more coming.
While great economic times foster magnificent architecture—society builds few massive edifices during food shortages—two rising theories posit that booms in architecture could indicate a coming economic bust. More than that, one such theory blames architecture itself for the downturn.
The Dodge Momentum Index, a monthly measurement of nonresidential building projects in planning, jumped 8.6% last month, climbing to 162.4 over 149.5 in March; this happened despite hitting its nine-year low in January; the index grew 77% over the previous three months. Healthcare and laboratory projects lead the index, while commercial projects have slipped with fewer warehouses in production. Overall, the index sits 31% higher than in April of last year.
With demand for office space in many big cities—from Melbourne to New York City to London—at significant lows, some housing advocates push to turn empty office space into residential apartments. Office vacancy rates in New York City reached 13.2% in March.
According to data from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), spending declined in 11 of the 16 nonresidential subcategories. Private nonresidential spending fell 0.9%, while public nonresidential dropped 1.5% in March.
Despite the massive worker shortage plaguing construction, new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that homebuilders have slowed their hiring pace. The trend moves upward at a crawling pace.
With a season of extreme shortages in new home availability, promising signs of increased production might catch up with demand.
According to new data released from the Federal Highway Association (FHWA), in 2019 (the year with the most recently compiled data), 842 fatalities occurred in work-zone crashes, compared to 757 in 2018, representing an 11.2% increase; this means the highest number of deaths in work zones since 2004.
On April 25th, the construction team, led by engineering and construction firm, Bechtel, added a massive cooling tank to Plant Vogtle Unit 4, one of only two nuclear power plants currently under construction in the United States. Located in Waynesboro, Georgia, this final crane lift marked the end of a significant phase of the project.
Carnegie Mellon University's professors Pingbo Tang and Burcu Akinci lead a team to design the National Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Construction; they work with other researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and over 40 industry partners.
Curri, a new company referred to as the “Uber of Construction,” gains investors as it seeks to disrupt a stagnant distribution model.
As part of a nuclear project out of Scotland, engineers adopt an innovative new concrete building tool they plan to use in floors, walls, and ceilings, all without rebar. Builders expect Steel Bricks, part of GE Hitachi’s (GEH’s) BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) plant, to reduce the required labor significantly.
Nobody in the construction industry sees the material shortage as new news; lumber has climbed more than 300% since March of 2020. According to a survey from the Associated Building Contractors, lack of materials competes for top concern among contractors, alongside the labor shortage.
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.”
Early in 2021, a mansion in Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, marketed as a solar-powered home, sold for $1525 million. The 112 solar panels on the roof generate enough power to operate the house for weeks or even months completely off-grid.
U.S. housing construction grew at the fastest pace since 2006 in March as builders recovered from the February weather-related slowdowns. Builders began construction on new homes at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.74 million units in March, up 19.4% over February when building fell 11%. As the fastest boom in growth since the 2006 housing craze, some economists are pleased while others are wary.
Many Hong Kong residents cite construction site pollution—dust, smell, noise, and heat—as "unbearable," especially in the hot and humid summer months.
While many solutions to the pandemic appear easy—washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing—much in urban design and architecture complicates strict guidelines adherence. How do you stay six feet apart if a sidewalk or a corridor is only four feet wide? What about pressing the button to cross the street or ride the elevator while trying to avoid high-touch areas?
On March 31, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that makes recreational marijuana legal in New York. Anyone over the age of 21 can possess up to 3 ounces of the drug. As far as construction crews, a simple solution seems obvious: make a rule that no one may work while impaired. But the problem's complexity requires a more involved solution.
Despite the blockbuster residential market, as a post-vaccination country re-opens for business as usual, construction industry problems remain. Two issues hang over the construction industry's head: material and supply chain and labor shortages.
Can architects patent or trademark their designs? Many debate the question of architectural ownership. Some designers find contentment in public recognition of their buildings as landmark achievements; Others seek documented claims on their work. The 1852 English Patents Reform and the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty introduced pathways to protect architects' and designers' IPs.
Last year’s Lockdown and quarantine translated into a spike in home renovations, both in DIY projects and professionally done remodels. Many homeowners integrated green-home concepts into their plans: between March 2020 and March 2021, Google searches for “green home renovations” increased 112%. ConstructionGlobal analyzed Google search volumes to scrutinize the most significant trends.
The unemployment rate dropped to 6%, adding 916,000 jobs to the economy. The construction industry, with 110,000 new jobs, represented a significant portion of the employment growth.
Two bills, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in December, set aside $190.5 billion to help schools. This money could represent significant changes in the architecture of future schools.
Los Angeles, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, faces a massive housing shortage. Many people live in wooden barracks. The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety plans to react to their crisis by launching the Accessory Dwelling Unit Standard Plan Program. Based on a 2017 statewide law, their directive enables the city to approve the construction of tens of thousands of “high-design, minimal dwellings” in-home backyards throughout the city.
When working with reinforced concrete, there will always be the “rodbusters”, a highly skilled, yet underappreciated group of men and women who perform the tedious and backbreaking task of tying the rebar together every time they cross, either with wire or plastic. For a large project, like a bridge, this can mean many thousands of ties—all done manually. It is difficult, repetitive work that must be done, but often leads to injuries, particularly repetitive-motion injuries or back problems.
Facing a new project in 2019, Keith Switzer of INTEC Group, found himself in a meeting about safety on a new four-story housing project, and he decided he was going to take this seriously. It began by making a list. The meeting turned into a brainstorming session where, as he puts it, they said “if you did this differently, this would be a safer way of doing XYZ.”
The massive boom in residential construction remains in the news, even with a slowdown at the beginning of 2021. Most anticipate the market to stay strong throughout the remaining year.
This week in Texas, a federal grand jury returned an indictment on Michael Angelo Padron with one conspiracy charge to commit wire fraud and eight counts of wire fraud, along with two co-conspirators. According to the charges, Padron placed a service-disabled veteran, Ruben Villareal (one of the co-conspirators), as frontman at his construction company to acquire Small Business Association contracts reserved for veteran-owned businesses.
Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, usually reserved for more fanciful and exciting architectural projects, for their more humble, yet no less impressive, transformative work: Grand Parc towers in France’s suburbs. City planners had scheduled the towers for demotion along with most of the area’s 1960’s-era concrete slab housing—artifacts from the country’s communist past. Lacaton and Vassal disagreed with the decision to flatten the buildings. Their philosophy is: “Never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform and reuse.”
The $20 billion megaproject, One Central, in Chicago appears to be moving forward, following a dispute with Metra Electric, Chicago’s commuter rail system. Landmark Development, the developer of One Central, reached a tentative agreement this week to work “above, below, and around the tracks in the area without disrupting commuter operations.” Also, Landmark will spend $3.8 billion on a transit connection.
A Fox Business report this week cites an increase in women moving into the construction industry. Within the past 12 months, many more women than men lost their jobs due primarily to womens’ prominence in the retail, hospitality, and travel industries.
The Cherokee County School Board stopped construction of the School of Innovation and Technology building project in Cherokee County, North Carolina, due to workers uncovering the presence of a slave graveyard that dates back to the Civil War.
This week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, designating thirteen upcoming projects as "Infrastructure Gamechangers." These game-changers earned their status due to their transformative innovations in the way engineers plan, build, and adapt to infrastructure needs.
Three recent projects show innovation in 3D printed building. The first comes from Austin, TX, where the public can purchase the first American 3D printed homes. A development project in the California desert comes in second, where builders have announced the first 3D printed housing community. A Tennessee credit union that features a 3D printed façade takes the third spot.
Both Dodge Data and Analytics (Dodge) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) released reports this week that predict 2021's construction industry positives and negatives.
With more companies and countries getting a toe-hold into space, it's only natural that a massive construction project intends to make big profits from future tourist space travel.
In a year that has seen massive layoffs and millions of people looking for work, you'd think that construction—an industry that has historically suffered from significant labor shortages—would fill vacancies with the flood of unemployed workers. Construction companies have found increasing difficulty hiring skilled laborers.
In her book, Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales from the Logistics of Eating (2019), Robyn Shotwell Metcalfe refers to the paradox of catching fish in New England, exported them to Japan, then shipping them back as sushi; this reveals a large and complex network, invisible to those who order Japanese takeout.
New York lawmakers hope to reduce on-the-job construction industry injuries and deaths with a new bill. The New York State senate signed Bill S1302 into law on February 16th; this bill expands on a registry of information related to construction incidents that result in fatal injuries. The bill's language qualifies workers in the following groups: “direct employees, contracted employees, subcontracted employees, independent contractors, temporary or contingency workers, apprentices, interns, volunteers.” It also expands the term “contractor” to include direct employers, contractors, and subcontractors.
2021 looks to be a challenging year for construction, reports Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a worldwide real estate conglomerate. JLL predicts a 5% to 8% drop in overall nonresidential construction.
The IRS convicted Hugo Cruz-Medina, a 33-year-old from Jacksonville, Fl., of several counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and illegally entering the country after being deported. He received a three-to-five-year sentence in federal prison and orders to pay his victims $3,266,506.33 in restitution, as well as a punitive amount of $1,408,712.08, which were the proceeds of his mail and wire fraud.
Around the world we have seen rising temperatures, growing to record numbers nearly every year of the last decade, and it’s got some entrepreneurs in India thinking: could we use ancient cooling techniques in modern structures?
Much has been written (even on this blog) about changes coming to architecture due to the pandemic. The 2021 building season indicates what consumers and designers desire for American homes in the future. The residential market reveals three immediate and significant architectural trends.
The Australian construction company Lendlease reported last week that its operating profit had fallen 26% from the same period in 2019, from AU $278 million (U.S. $219 million) to AU$205 million ($162 million.) It also cut its dividend by 50%.
Visitors to England’s Stonehenge admire the magnificent and breathtaking vistas. Still, even spending a short time on site, it’s difficult not to notice the mass of traffic just a few hundred feet away. Although Stonehenge sits on a vacant land plot, a nearby road, built in the 19th century, acts as a major thoroughfare through the region. In 2020, the government conditionally approved the construction of a massive tunnel to silence highway noise.
Fortune magazine has published its annual ranking of most admired companies in all sectors, including construction and engineering. The category leader was AECOM, followed by Jacobs, Quanta Services, MasTec, and KBR.
Purdue University presented a new robot at the 2021 Technology Showcase: The State of Innovation. The new design integrates BIM (building information modeling) and construction robotics in a new way to reduce the time it takes to complete basic tasks and to make up for labor shortages.