In a recent article, Construction Dive offers five predictions on how construction will evolve in this New Year. Here are the top trends to expect in 2020 in the nation’s second-largest industry:

  • Scrutiny into structural processes will aim to make catastrophes more impossible.
  • Modular will see more momentum in the market.
  • Diversity and equity come to the forefront through contract mandates.
  • Automation will deliver efficiencies on jobsites without stealing jobs.
  • Top contractors will continue to reconsider megaprojects with inherently high-risk contracts.

Major structural failures such as the Hard Rock Casino Hotel in New Orleans and the 2018 Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse are likely to change how some contractors do business in 2020. The impact of these will result in construction companies experiencing greater scrutiny from their insurance carriers, forcing companies to reevaluate their procedures and take a closer look at the design and execution of their projects. Construction Dive hopes that “2020 will be a year in which the industry and all stakeholders down the individual worker will aim to remedy mistakes of yesteryear by proactive approaches to erecting buildings safely and (structurally) soundly.”

As reported in some previous blog posts, the popularity of modular building is definitely one to watch. As hotel heavyweights like Marriott seek out the schedule efficiencies modular offers, more will begin to adopt this model. In fact, the AIA has implemented an official guide for architects meant to explain and promote the method. Construction Dive plans to keep an eye on this segment by offering their new Modular Monitor monthly column. 

The effects of the skilled labor shortage can be seen in all areas of the construction industry, compounded by requirements to employ a certain percentage of local, disadvantaged, small, minority, veteran or women-owned businesses. As contractors look ahead to this year, one solution may be to cast a wider net by breaking up the work into smaller packages in order to include more local and minority firms that might not have the financial wherewithal to tackle big projects. More contractors will also engage in early planning so that they have time to build up a robust list of minority subcontractors. “Diversity in the Workplace” was a featured topic at METALCON 2019 and will continue to be featured at METALCON 2020.

Construction equipment, be it self-driving vehicles or drones nailing down roof tiles, continues to move toward autonomous work. Construction Dive reports, “On-site workers don’t have to be concerned that robots or other autonomous equipment will be stealing their jobs. Instead, during this no-end-in-sight skilled labor shortage, automation could be one answer to vacant positions; plus, 54% of U.S. and U.K. construction workers surveyed by Volvo Construction Equipment said they think that advances in tech will speed up construction.” Like “Diversity in the Workplace,” the CONTECH Hub (Construction Technology) will once again be featured at METALCON 2020.

The last trend focuses on the traditional design-bid-build project delivery method to maximize efficiency and speed up construction time on large projects. The problem is that some major U.S. contractors are hitting roadblocks with one such approach in 2019, including agreements that lock them into a set fee and timetable. The trend is worrying for those who rely on P3s to get their projects built because as America’s infrastructure continues to age, there will be a greater need for creative approaches to large-scale public projects.