In the beginning of a new year, new construction industry trends emerge — especially when the new year begins with a new administration in the White House. During an election year, a year of uncertainty, there are fluctuations in a variety of industries until the new president’s inauguration. Some things change, others stay the same, but regardless of what the mix is, it’s always different from the year before.
Fortunately, the future looks bright for the construction industry. Economists from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), American Institute of Architects (AIA), and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — three highly regarded organizations within the construction industry — shared their predictions of growth for the industry in their 2017 construction forecast. If you’re looking for a new career, the construction industry is a great place to get started in 2017.
What are the 2017 construction industry trends? Where will we see the most growth? The answers to these frequently asked questions are based on historical data and educated predictions based on the current demands within the market. They also take into consideration opportunities and plans for the industry in the future.
We’ve done the research and gathered a list of the areas within the construction industry that are likely to see the best growth this year.
Dodge Data & Analytics predicts 10 percent growth in office construction. ConstructConnect predicts 11.3 percent. Researchers and economists disagree on the specific percentage, but all have one piece of their construction industry 2017 forecast exactly the same: this year will be the year of office construction. Why? Because jobs — specifically within accounting, engineering, computer design, telemarketing, customer service, and other professional services — are on the rise. And with more jobs, companies need more space to put their new workers.
But an increase in the number of jobs isn’t the only reason we’re seeing an increase in the demand for office space.
The millennial generation also plays a part. Millennials are recognized for loving an urban lifestyle, so they often migrate to cities. After working long hours, they like to be able to conveniently walk to restaurants and nightlife and then use public transportation to get home. Part of the prediction is that companies will invest more in urban areas to cater their office space toward the millennial generation. And while they’re at it, they’ll probably add some of the new up-and-coming office trends: sustainability, wellness, and fun interiors that encourage collaboration and communication.
Whether it’s new space to accommodate new members of the team or a renovated city office space to attract new millennial employees, office construction is certainly on the rise in 2017.
National research shows that shoppers are making more purchases online than in stores. In 2016, 51 percent of purchases were made online — crossing the 50 percent mark for the first time ever. As online purchases continue to increase, there’s a greater need for storage across the country. In addition to needing a place to put everything that consumers are ordering online, there’s also a sense of urgency in getting these online purchases in their hands even quicker. Enter warehouses.
Warehouse locations across the country help with storage and shipping speed. As online purchases continue to increase, more and more warehouses are constructed across the country to store and quickly move inventory from one place to the next. Online shopping doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, so we’re sure that warehouse construction will continue to be on the increase throughout 2017.
Despite the fact that online purchases are on the rise, surprisingly, retail construction finished strong in 2016 and is in a good place for the construction industry 2017 forecast. Whether a consumer is making an online purchase or an in-store purchase, it’s still a purchase. These purchases are more common when consumer confidence is higher — and The Conference Board’s Confidence Index has been high.
Overall, retail spending is solid, which creates demand for support of retail — not just in warehouses, but also in stores.
It’s no secret that retail brick-and-mortar stores are having a tough time keeping up with online stores. However, there are many that have started providing in-store shoppers with a unique and memorable experience — like PetSmart’s owner-doggie spas and Lululemon’s in-store yoga classes.
These memorable experiences seem to be the key to getting foot traffic and may be part of the reason why retail store construction has made our list, despite recently being passed by online sales.
Despite the fact that mortgage rates have been on the rise since the end of 2017, new homes are breaking ground at a rate 7.5 percent higher than they did during the first two months of 2016. The trend of new, single-family home construction is certainly on the rise. Perhaps part of the reason for this increase, and the positive outlook, is because the millennial generation is making its way into the 30- to 35-year-old age bracket — an age that will likely put many of them in the market for a new home.
The demand for apartments also continued to rise last year, but slowed a bit in comparison to the previous year. While we’re still optimistic that the number of nonfamily renter households grew by 1.8 percent in 2016, it seems new home construction will be leading the way for residential construction in 2017.
As with many areas of the construction industry, this trend depends on several factors. For example, should mortgage rates continue to rise and/or unemployment rates increase, people will have less money and less motivation to build a new home.
Modular construction is becoming more and more popular in a variety of areas of construction as people begin to realize that modular construction can look just as good as traditional construction, but cost less time and money. The Modular Building Institute estimates that by 2020, modular construction will hold 5 percent of the market share.
Offsite construction has been around forever, so why all the attention all of a sudden? We suspect it might be due to a few high-profile modular projects. In 2016, the world’s tallest modular building was completed — a 32-story residential tower in New York. Another project in Oklahoma City touts a 142-room AC Hotel.
While these projects have received media attention and have likely caught the fascination of many, the decision to choose offsite construction comes down to a few big perks. Built to meet building codes, modular buildings are great candidates for LEED certification and are usually safer to build because they are built in a controlled environment.
If these projects continue to receive media coverage, we anticipate the growth will continue.
As we previously mentioned, in the year immediately following an election year, there are always changes based on the new administration — some positive, others negative. Changes that come from the new administration usually take several months to put in place, but even just the anticipation of these changes can have an effect on the market, and in turn, the construction industry.
At the end of February, during President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress, he reiterated his plans from the campaign to dedicate $1 trillion dollars to improving the country’s infrastructure. The details of President Trump’s plan are still unknown, but during his presidential campaign, he specifically mentioned the program would be privately funded, taking some of the stress off state and federal government.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our national infrastructure needs through 2020 come with a price tag of $3.6 trillion dollars — so it’s clear to see the demand for infrastructure improvement is alive and well. Combine that with President Trump’s $1 trillion-dollar infrastructure plan and you have a larger-than-life increase in the construction industry when it comes to our roads, bridges, and public transit.
The construction of hotels and motels is constantly fluctuating, but is currently on the rise. Despite the popularity of websites like Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO, there’s still a need for short-term stays that many of these websites do not provide in a cost-effective manner. Therefore, there’s still a place in the market for hotels and motels.
The long-term impact of these home rental companies is yet to be determined. While we know there’s still a boom within lodging construction, it’s very possible that these companies will affect the usual cycle we see in the construction of hotels and motels. Only time will tell. All we can say at this point is that 2017 looks good for lodging.
Of course, the demand for hotels depends significantly on the economy. When consumer confidence is high and the economy is doing well, people are more likely to travel and stay in hotels. With the stock market off to a strong start in the beginning of 2017, it’s safe to say lodging construction is on its way to having a strong year.
Technology seems to be trending in almost every industry, but it plays an especially vital role in our construction industry 2017 forecast. While not all construction companies embrace technology, there are big opportunities for those that do.
Drones have the ability to complete safety inspections, capture project progress, and gather all kinds of data. They have been one of the hottest trends for the past couple of years and their implications for the construction industry are huge — as long as construction companies take the time to ensure compliance with FAA rules and regulations.
The Internet of Things (IoT) empowers construction companies to collect various pieces of information on a job site — equipment, employee tracking, drone surveying, etc. — that can be used to make job sites more efficient. Employee wearables can help flag risks in jobsite hazards, and sensors in construction equipment can notify you when repairs or service are needed. The challenge is organizing and prioritizing all of the information that’s collected. However, the challenge is nothing compared to the opportunities to save time and money.
Building Information Models (BIM) have continued to improve over time. What began as a 3D modeling system has now evolved into 6D modeling. Giving a true representation of the look and feel of the building before ground is broken enables the construction team to review it in detail and flag any costly errors ahead of time.
Virtual and augmented reality technology take BIM even further — rather than just reviewing a 6D model of your building, you have the opportunity to do a virtual walkthrough. And again, this grants the ability to identify any errors prior to breaking ground. This can save time and money for both the construction company and the building owner.
This technology is also a game-changer for new employees, for whom having a virtual building and job site is a priceless training opportunity. Rather than learning onsite, where there can be several safety hazards, virtual reality enables construction companies to train workers on safety from the comfort of the office.
Each of these technologies can significantly impact a construction company’s bottom line. As labor and material costs fluctuate, searching for ways to streamline processes and prevent costly changes in scope can be a key to increasing profits on construction.
Job Site Safety
In 2016, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) increased its penalties by 78 percent for violations. This motivated construction companies to make sure they had their safety practices in order. Job site injuries cost a lot of money, not only in OSHA fines but also in worker’s compensation and the work time lost due to injury. With OSHA fines on the rise, there’s even more motivation for construction companies to make safety a priority in 2017.
OSHA statistics show one in five worker deaths are in the construction industry, and to elevate the urgency even further, there’s potential to be criminally prosecuted as agencies and law enforcement continue to give more and more attention to work injuries. Needless to say, we think there’s a solid case for safety to be near the top of the construction industry trends list for 2017.
One area of the construction industry that isn’t doing as well is the applicant pool. Construction laborers are few and far between and, as a result, wages are rising. While rising wages have a negative impact on project timelines and budgets, this translates to a big opportunity for young people entering the workforce, or for others who may be considering a job change.
Without a big pool of applicants who are qualified to take on labor and management jobs in construction, those who are qualified can easily stand out.
Vista College has two programs that prepare individuals for careers in the construction industry: the Construction Technology Diploma and the Construction Management Associate Degree. Both programs prepare you for a career as a framer, drywall installer, construction laborer, tile worker, and other related positions.
Our Construction Technology Diploma takes less than a year to complete, so you can get a head-start on a new career without investing a large amount of time and money.
The Construction Management Associate Degree we offer can be completed in less than one-and-a-half years and takes your construction career preparation one step further.
Programs begin every five weeks and financial aid is available for those who qualify. To learn more about how we can help you train for a new career in the construction industry, visit our website.