2021 has been one exciting year. From the rebound of the construction industry in some sectors to the struggles of labor shortages felt across every construction market, these twelve months of ups and downs have meant there’s never been a dull moment. Last year, at the end of 2020, most predictions for 2021 focused on both the looming labor shortage as well as the continuing impact technology would have on mitigating some of the economic damage that hit the industry.
As we wrap up this year and head into the next, the forecasted trends for 2021 are much more optimistic. We spoke to a few of our industry experts to get more insight into what they’re predicting for the construction world.
- Integrated estimating + preconstruction reconsidered
- Increase in multi-family residential and healthcare construction
- Loss of preconstruction professionals, especially seasoned ones
Integrated Estimating + Preconstruction Reconsidered
Preconstruction as a whole has seen an intense evolution in just the past decade alone. Not only has technology helped transform a largely manual job into a much more automated process that allows for intense data analysis, but it is also is beginning to be seen as a value add rather than just another step that has to get crossed off the checklist. In fact, many general contractors are now beginning to charge for preconstruction services.
Additionally, the increased use of data visualization and models within estimating has given an added depth to preconstruction. Brent Pilgrim, DESTINI Applications Director of The Beck Group and co-founder of the Estimating with BIM Task Force, says, “I predict the industry as a whole is going to re-think ‘preconstruction’ in general. How is it structured, how is it delivered, how it is resourced, the relationship of preconstruction to other project services, what are the skills needed to be a great precon team member.”
As a result of re-evaluating the role of preconstruction, the industry is also likely to continue seeing integrated estimating, in which preconstruction services are executed within one system rather than multiple different platforms. Ensuring early collaboration with the precon team will also be another significant trend, as evidenced by several contractors in 2021.
Increase in Multi-Family Residential and Healthcare Construction
Another major prediction is that the industry will continue to see a massive boom in two of the hottest markets at the moment, multi-family residential and healthcare construction. According to Realtor Magazine, multi-family residential starts were at an all-time high of 20.5% in August 2021.
For obvious reasons, healthcare starts are also exploding and will likely continue to explode as we move into 2022. While the COVID-19 pandemic kickstarted this trend, it’s also important to note that improving technology has made it more important than ever to create state-of-the-art facilities that allow for a more holistic view of medicine. One great example of the desire for buildings that enable the treatment of the entire being is the Judi & Bill Leonard Institute for Cancer.
Loss of Preconstruction Professionals, Especially Seasoned Ones
However, on a more challenging note, the labor shortage will continue to be a prominent hardship in 2022. More specifically, Taimoor Khan, Vice President of Preconstruction at Satterfield & Pontikes, observes: “There are not enough preconstruction professionals. Everybody’s looking for estimators and preconstruction managers, but they can’t find them. And I believed what happened was that the older generation of estimators was retired, and there were not a lot of mid-level estimators. There’s not a lot of younger people coming into estimating. That’s why the industry will have to start doing something to attract new talent . . . And that’s where you have to really make it exciting with new technologies, where they say, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do.’”
It’s absolutely critical that preconstruction teams do everything they can to market a career as an estimator positively rather than negatively or self-deprecatingly. You can’t expect people to be interested in going into preconstruction if you’re not highlighting all of the cool and innovative things happening in it! Of course, making preconstruction attractive is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are up to five other ways to improve your talent-hiring skills—click here to learn how.
Fresh Start in the New Year
We hope you’ve been both encouraged by some of these predictions and challenged by them as well. Regardless of our predictions, at the end of the day, a new year is always full of exciting possibilities.