As the country makes its slow exit from the pandemic, the construction industry has been seeing some positive changes. The steady roll-out of vaccinations in the U.S. has given way for the lifting of more restrictions and the reopening of more businesses.
CNN reports that in February, homes stayed in the market for only 20 days when they would do so for 36 days last year. At the same time, the demand for homes is high, while fewer homes are on the market, which has put prices in favor of sellers.
These happenings give an idea of how the construction industry will look like once the country recovers from the pandemic. Here are some ways that we are seeing the industry evolve with the times.
How Residential Properties Are Changing
The effects of the pandemic on how we live have inevitably changed what homeowners want their homes to look like. In turn, what people need of contractors is also transforming.
Shifting Preferences in Home Design
People are more particular about what purposes the areas in their homes accomplish more than they have been before. Some ways that the pandemic has affected home design is that people are investing more in safety and comfort. These can be through big changes such as renovations, but smaller adjustments are also expected.
For homes to be more restful, homeowners want spaces that are quieter. Spray foam insulation makes this happen while also efficiently regulating home temperatures. For HVACs, better air filtration systems and split-type air conditioners are ideal to address sanitation concerns in the home.
Home offices are also much more important due to the persistence of flexible work arrangements even after virus-related concerns subside. Both companies and employees have seen benefits and conveniences from the remote work setup, so more people will want to redesign an area of their homes to act as an office.
Due to the virus recently being confirmed as airborne, clearer divisions between every room in the house are also preferred. Open concepts are taking a step back to make way for isolated spaces that promote better safety.
Shortages on Materials
Along with the housing market boom and lower interest rates comes a greater demand for construction materials. However, the pandemic has not only caused disruptions in supply chain and manufacturing. It has also cost many construction companies a good number of workers.
Organizations continue to navigate this as the world moves forward, but the effects remain strong on builders with interruptions likely to persist until 2022. With the various shortages, the prices of important materials such as lumber, plywood, and even appliances have shot up significantly.
Despite the lower prices attached to financing homes now, the budget required to get the necessary materials for building or remodeling a home will go into these higher prices. These issues will also cause project delays as not all contractors have been able to stock up on essential equipment to make up for the lack of resources.
The Post-pandemic Workforce
Before the pandemic even hit, laborers in the construction industry were already seeing a decline. Since the majority of construction workers are baby boomers, many are headed towards or are already in retirement today. This means that the industry needs to capture a younger generation of workers to stay afloat in years to come.
Still, the industry faces roadblocks in appealing to younger workers to pursue jobs in construction. In a 2019 survey by the National Association of Homebuilders, only 3% of young workers expressed interest in pursuing a career in construction. Contributing to this lack of interest was an aversion to the hard labor involved in the line of work.
Where the industry looks optimistic is the advancements in technology that are helping construction more accessible. With the youth being more technologically adept than previous generations, the industry needs to emphasize the role of technology in construction to entice more young professionals to enter into the field.
The Rising Need for Technology
To stay competitive despite the labor shortages, construction companies need to automate and use digital tools for less reliance on human labor. For example, management software can streamline logistics and project planning with optimized UI and easier organization.
Drones can also easily keep track of warehouse inventory and do surveillance for warehouses. Artificial intelligence is also promising in the field, opening the possibility for safer sites and more accurate analyses through machine learning.
As technology continues to evolve in the construction industry, the need for laborers with technical skills also rises. Combining the right approaches to labor and the right technological applications will see the sector moving forward from the challenges of the pandemic.