The construction sector remains consistently strong and steady despite the country's economic and social challenges. The coming year promises to be no different – though construction will face challenges through 2024, there are numerous opportunities for industry growth and change.
This article will discuss some top construction trends driving the construction industry throughout 2024 and beyond.
The state of the industry
On paper, it appears as though construction fared better than most other industries over the past year. Construction spending remained steady from the previous year, while output grew over 2022.
However, consistent inflation makes these numbers appear better than they are – the growth reflects cost increases rather than actual construction volume.
Construction was challenged by the cost and the supply of labor, material price fluctuation, and economic challenges that made building a greater risk for owners.
Though some experts believe material costs will level out sometime in 2024, many of this year's challenges are likely to continue into the next. However, they may be offset by funding in manufacturing and infrastructure that bolsters the demand for building projects.
The construction market also stands to benefit from technological products and advances that will increase contractors' efficiency and resiliency on their projects.
Technology's answer to post-Covid challenges
Though the crises Covid-19 pandemic caused are largely in the past, the world is still coping with the after-effects of a global pandemic.
Virtual meeting software became critical to business operations during global lockdowns and continues to challenge business owners to balance remote and in-person work options for their employees.
Similarly, safety regulations put in place during 2020 have changed the safety game forever, including new guidelines teams can use in the case of another virus outbreak.
Labor and materials supply chain challenges that came to a head during 2020 and 2021 are still in play, counteracted by the efficiency and preplanning offered by construction and inventory management software options.
What's new in construction technology trends
While technology's influence on the construction industry has been growing for some time, but as digital capabilities grow, contractors will be able to design, plan, schedule, and manage construction projects better.
Technology has revolutionized the way construction professionals design buildings. Building Information Modeling (BIM) leads to better project outcomes, including fewer changes to the design, better client understanding of the design team's vision for the proposed building, and improved relationships between the client and the design team.
Through 2024, BIM's use will be impacted by the emerging capabilities of 3D printing, augmented reality technology, and improved sharing and communication through cloud frameworks. These innovations will further improve BIM's ability to ensure owners, designers, and builders understand one another.
Computer-assisted construction and prefabrication
Artificial intelligence (AI) is not exactly new, but the technology that drives it is improving with incredible speed. AI can be used to run scheduling scenarios to reduce risk, bid more accurately, and develop contingency plans for when things change mid-build.
Construction robotics have come a long way, too, with machines that can lay bricks alongside masons, reprint drawings directly onto jobsite surfaces, or excavate trenches. Robots can help improve job safety and alleviate labor shortage woes and often work with other popular technologies like BIM.
Construction experts vary on their opinion of how far prefabrication can take off in the construction industry. Still, one thing is for sure: more and more construction elements are being constructed off-site in manufacturing facilities and trucked to the construction site ready for installation. Prefabrication can improve the efficiency and quality of construction, while offering safer indoor working conditions that appeal to many laborers.
Focus on sustainable construction and green building
Construction firms are facing increasing pressure to build sustainable and efficient buildings. Construction businesses must track and comply with continually evolving environmental regulations and respond to client interest in sustainability while simultaneously controlling costs.
Luckily, lower carbon footprint-building materials and cleaner-running equipment are becoming easier for contractors to access.
Technology is a big part of the sustainable building landscape. Construction management software helps contractors avoid wasteful errors, prefabrication can reduce construction material inputs, and BIM can lead to better construction outcomes the first time.
In addition to technological advancements in construction processes, digital marketing for home services is becoming an indispensable tool for firms to reach and engage with their target audiences. As more homeowners turn to online platforms to find construction and renovation services, companies must adapt by developing robust digital marketing strategies. This includes
- leveraging social media,
- search engine optimization,
- and digital advertising to showcase their projects,
- share customer testimonials,
- and highlight their expertise in the home services sector.
Embracing digital marketing not only enhances visibility in a competitive market but also allows construction firms to connect more effectively with potential clients, leading to increased business opportunities and growth in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
Construction technology in 2024
Since construction began its digital revolution, new products have cropped up for nearly every aspect of project completion. Their use has ushered in many benefits to the way owners, architects, and builders approach each construction project.
Building takes considerable time, money, and labor power. However, construction technology has allowed builders to become more efficient in the way they do things. Faster communication and document sharing, especially through process-specific construction management technology, helps construction teams sidestep costly errors, recognize challenges with enough lead time to mitigate any time loss, and explore design and scheduling scenarios to determine the best available options.
Future improvements in AI will help contractors strategize for greater efficiency, while prefabrication will reduce lost time due to bad weather and labor shortages.
Recent advancements in building software and cloud-sharing frameworks can reduce costs in many functions across a construction project.
Procurement and inventory management software reduces downtime while reducing construction materials costs, and labor planning systems make the most of each worker's time, skills, and expertise.
Better project outcomes can lead to improved client relations, shorter payment timelines, and fewer cases of expensive litigation, while data collection and organization can help settle disputes faster and more favorably.
Construction technology itself represents an expense, so builders will have to balance the cost and benefit of each product. However, as tech use and proficiency increase, construction companies that use and integrate software to improve their outcomes will have a competitive advantage.
Construction firms who harness technology can actually produce better buildings. Predictive modeling and the greater accuracy achieved through drone exploration and computer-controlled excavation reduce human error to ensure improved outcomes.
BIM and drone technologies help find problems early on so that they can be corrected before more substantial damage occurs. Finally, technology has allowed for the production of strong, sustainable, and disaster-resistant building materials that can last generations.
As labor costs and shortages continue to plague the construction industry, the pressure is on to do more with less. Automation helps reduce manual labor, especially repetitive tasks, which reduces human error, improves worker satisfaction, and saves time.
Financial and accounting systems are particularly well-suited to easily-integrated automation. Truss works with existing accounting software to sync payables and receivables, automate payment reminders, facilitate easier invoicing, and simplify payments. Automate expense management throughout a project with Truss' innovative card expense management tool. Truss cards allow firms to issue unlimited individual cards, each with its own spending limit, project tagging, and automated receipt-upload.
The challenges of using technology
There is still some reluctance among contractors to fully commit to using construction technology. Construction companies are on tight margins, so technology has to have the potential to bring in strong returns.
High initial investment
Some software companies require an up-front commitment before contractors can even get started learning and understanding how a product will impact their operations, be accepted by their employees, and impact their bottom lines. That commitment is a full-faith leap in an industry that already has narrow margins. Work with a fully vetted construction tech firm that can talk to your team members, offers excellent support through the first projects you use it on, and has a reputation for usability.
Contractors can get started with Truss for free, with no transfer fees or monthly costs and no account minimums.
Many construction teams have limited experience in adopting new technology, especially when it comes to retrofitting already entrenched construction processes to fit a new system. Contractors should find a small number of team members who are fully committed to learning and integrating the new technology and can mentor other employees on its uses and benefits.
Integration with existing systems
Challenges to technology adoption become even more difficult as a firm's tech stack grows. How will the new inventory system work with the existing construction management software? Without integration, data input efforts may actually increase, as numbers have to be put into one system, then translated to another. Firms should prioritize technology that will work with existing systems to make the best use of the available data and reduce human error.
Truss integrates with commonly used accounting software, so that office staff can automate financial processes from creating invoices all the way to reconciliation.
The future of construction through tech
While there are many challenges still facing construction firms, the industry is poised to realize the incredible power of new trends like AI and automation for more transparency in project planning and execution, ultimately resulting in better contractor/client relationships and improved project outcomes.
Contractors sometimes shy away from investing in new technology because they're worried about high upfront costs, difficulty in learning and using the new products, and whether the technology will work well with existing systems and processes.
To alleviate these worries, construction firms should do thorough research on the products they try, picking ones that will provide improvement where it's needed most, offer good support services, and integrate well with programs they already use.
Contractors need to embrace new technologies in 2024 and beyond to remain competitive and lift up the industry through innovation and improvement.
Truss helps contractors pay their subs faster and send payment links on digital invoices to access funds as soon as they're sent. Truss costs nothing to get started, and integrates with existing accounting systems to minimize manual input and human error.