Now that 2015 has come and gone, construction professionals are focusing attention on the year ahead. Analysts predict 2016 will be a strong year for the industry, as Dodge Data & Analytics' 2016 Construction Outlook report predicted 6% growth, with the value of construction starts reaching an estimated $712 billion.
Here are the top 5 trends to watch in 2016, according to the experts:
1) Prefab/offsite construction methods will become more popular
Offsite — also known as modular or prefabricated — construction has been gaining ground as an alternative building method that offers the benefits of reduced construction time, less waste and possible cost savings. As companies struggle to staff job sites and stick to difficult schedules, many have started to turn to prefab as an option that offers more certainty.
2. BIM will become a necessity, and owner interest in the technology will grow
Building Information Modeling has been a growing trend for years, as it is no longer relegated to just the largest firms. Experts have said BIM provides tangible business benefits, no matter the level of implementation. Many have cited BIM's ability to provide more consistent, more accurate and less time-consuming project document generation. In addition, BIM users can expect better collaboration and coordination among the different parties involved in a project, according to industry users.
3. Green building will grow in commercial and residential sectors
Commercial construction has typically led the pack in green adoption, but the residential sector is starting to catch up. The growing trend in both sectors is driven not just by a desire to produce environmentally friendly structures, but by consumer demand, higher-quality results and lifecycle cost savings, according to experts at Greenbuild 2015.
Thasarathar said that with larger construction projects, companies are aiming for LEED certification, "even if it's not prescribed."
In the residential sector, green building currently accounts for 26-33% of the total residential market and has helped contribute to the industry's recovery after the recession, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.
4. Laser scanning technology will gain popularity
"Laser scanning I think has a lot of room to run. Not as many people are using it, but it's a great tool to measure more precisely than most conventional ways," LaRosa said. "What the laser scanner allows you to do is get millions of data points and put that into a building information model and provide much more information about conditions you couldn't get previously. Look for that to continue to grow certainly next year and for another five years."
5. Skilled labor shortage will continue to plague construction companies
The most commonly mentioned trend for 2016 was the continued effects of the skilled worker shortage. A significant portion of employees who left the industry during the recession never returned, and companies are still struggling to find workers at all levels to properly staff their teams.
"The overwhelming, number one issue is access to skilled labor," Dominic Thasarathar, Autodesk's senior industry program manager for construction and natural resources, told Construction Dive. "So many people left the industry or were laid off, and now there's a real struggle to find the right people to staff the projects that are now coming online."