BIM, Building Design, Green Building, Sustainable Building, Sustainable Design

A Look Back at the Construction Industry Trends in 2018

This year saw plenty of emerging construction trends as well as some carryover from previous years. Here’s a look back at 6 construction industry trends that dominated the industry landscape in 2018.


1. Continued Labour Shortages

Construction Worker

This year saw continued labour shortages worldwide. In Asia, emerging economies face severe labour shortages. This concern began back in 2016 when the Workforce Analytics Institute (WAI) published a report about labour and skill shortages among Asian workforces.

The summary of the report concludes that, “Across Asia, skilled labour is in high demand, but workforce preparedness varies widely across the region, and each country faces different challenges when it comes to their skilled labour pools.”

It’s estimated that in the next decade, “the working age population in China will decline” due to the country’s past one-child policy. By comparison, India’s labour force will be growing over the next decade, but with only two per cent of those workers in a skilled profession.


2. Modular and Prefabricated Projects

Another continuing construction industry trend is prefab and modular construction. New trend construction aims to cut work times and save energy. It’s likely this trend will continue to grow in popularity, especially for companies looking to cut costs.

Modular construction has applications in nearly all construction sectors, from commercial to residential. In fact, according to ThomasNET, almost 40 per cent of low-rise office buildings worldwide are partially or fully created using modular construction.

A significant area of growth will be housing, but challenges still include bias and a reputation for being fragile. Time will tell if there are any downsides to modular and prefabricated construction. Additionally, managers responsible for procurement need to be aware of material costs that may impact the overall cost of their modular project.


3.Increased Material Costs

Increased material costs are nothing new to the construction industry. This trend isn’t’ going anywhere anytime soon. Rising costs in supplies and skilled labour. That’s why 2018 saw companies trying to cut costs by embracing modular designs and new technologies.

Although large companies can absorb the added costs, smaller companies may struggle to compete for bids. On the other hand, accessible technologies continue to level the playing field. Companies that embrace the changes are more likely to find success.


4.Smart Buildings

Big data Smart Buildings

“Smart” is the new “green.” According to 
Building Design and Construction, “Within seven years, the U.S. market will have a “smart certified” designation, and the label will be as prominent as green/sustainability, health/wellness, and resiliency. Why? Because smart buildings are highly marketable, owner friendly, productivity-focused, and resource efficient.”

With smart buildings and homes comes an emergence of data. “Big data” and “Internet of Things” are terms that even the typical homeowner will be confronted with.

Data is extremely useful in that it allows project managers to see overviews of safety, workforce, equipment operations, and quality assurance.

Emerging from the data scene will be the use of augmented reality tools that will enable everything from 3D modelling to virtual building tours.

Forbes estimates that “Over the next five years Big Data and analytics will radically transform both the process of construction and the business of construction contracting. The future seems very bright for those companies which are able to embrace data analytics and new technology to innovate how we construct things.”


5. Sustainable Builds

According to Forbes, “By 2030, the worldwide market for construction services is expected to grow by 85% to $15.5 trillion. Buildings are becoming bigger and more complex and a growing focus is being put on sustainability.”

And 2018 saw a push toward sustainability. Sustainability is less about a product’s carbon footprint and more about methods, processes, and lean projects. Sustainable construction does focus on the preservation of communities and the environment.

We anticipate this construction industry trend to continue to 2019 and beyond because as consumers become more aware of these environmentally-friendly options, the demand will grow.


Because the construction industry accounts for much of the pollution in many countries. Here are just a couple statistics out of the UK:

  • 45 per cent of all UK carbon emissions is derived from construction.
  • 32 per cent of landfill waste is derived from construction and demolition.

As companies strive to leverage corporate social responsibility as a selling point for modern consumers, sustainable practices will continue to grow in popularity.


6.Building Collaborations

Construction management software

Of all the construction industry trends of 2018, this is one of the more complex topics that stem from technology integration.

Digital project collaboration tools allow for remote, paperless collaboration between parties working on a construction project. Collaborative tools transform how projects are completed as it makes communication between people easy.

McKinsey & Company’s report on construction’s digital future in 2016 concluded that, “One reason for the industry’s poor productivity record is that it still relies mainly on paper to manage its processes and deliverables such as blueprints, design drawings, procurement and supply-chain orders, equipment logs, daily progress reports, and punch lists. Due to the lack of digitization, information sharing is delayed and may not be universal.”

To maintain competitive with prices, 2018 saw construction companies collaborating more than ever. This means the need for rapid communication is crucial. Construction management software is able to do just that.


Change or Die

Although the construction industry has been slow to adopt technology, there are some companies embracing the changes.

Although the key market driver will be consumer demand, industry bodies, regulators and governments have the power to incentivise sustainable construction practices.

This year was a great indicator of where things are going in construction. The big winners within the industry will be those that adopt technologies and sustainable practices while leveraging digital tools.



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