Construction Industry Year in Review 2021
2021 was a year defined by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages greatly impacting the construction industry. Early on, the trends looked positive as COVID-19 restrictions began to ease and vaccination rates climbed, leading many to believe that a return to normalcy was just around the corner. But soon, the industry faced a brand-new set of problems when material costs soared and labor became increasingly difficult to find. Those two challenges dominated headlines over the course of the year, but even so there is much to be excited about in the construction industry. From booming industries to growing technologies, let’s look back at the exciting new developments of this past year.
Industry Growth Despite Challenges
According to ResearchAndMarkets’ annual report, the United States can expect to close out 2021 with 1.8% of total construction growth, a number that’s projected to surge to 3.7% in 2022. What’s causing this growth? One of the key contributors was the rapid increase in residential construction, which was fueled by rising housing costs. In California, home prices climbed as much as 21% from their 2020 figures. These circumstances made residential construction more appealing than ever, and the results spoke for themselves: Zillow reported that contractors began work on 1.62 million US homes in August alone. However, the residential sector was not immune to the supply chain shortages and home construction began to stall in September, a 2% decrease from the previous month, where the trend seems destined to continue if supplies and labor can’t be sufficiently sourced.
New Technology Goes Mainstream
For years the construction industry was criticized for its hesitance to adopt new technologies, preferring to maintain the status quo of what had been successful in the past. That’s begun to change, and 2021 proved to be a banner year for technology on the jobsite. New technologies, such as ManufactOn, help contractors and developers maximize their ROI by improving visibility, cutting down on waste, and streamlining processes. Powerful platforms encourage communication and collaboration, creating stronger connections between all project contributors.
New technological advances also increased security for construction companies. The construction industry has been one of the primary targets for cybercriminals, who can hold company information for ransom and create devastating damage to a company’s reputation. Luckily, there is a solution, and more and more business owners are taking steps to reduce that risk. A survey from the Data Breach Investigations Report found that over half of small business owners were adding increased security measures to their company systems and training their employees to use cybersecurity best practices to prevent cyber-attacks on vital company data.
Mass Timber Takes Center Stage
There’s a big project working its way up into the Milwaukee skyline. Just under 40 miles from the Hy-Brid Lifts headquarters, the Ascent Tower is set to be completed in summer of 2022. Ascent may be the world’s tallest mass timber structure, but it’s certainly not the only mass timber building currently under construction. While this trend may seem new to the United States, it has already gained popularity around the world, and for good reason. Timber can be sustainably sourced and reduces a site’s carbon footprint while maintaining the structural stability and fire-resistance of other building materials.
Mass timber is just one way that construction is attempting to preserve our planet. Alternative energy sources, electric-powered equipment, and LEED certification are just a few more industry developments that continue to promote environmentally friendly business practices.
What to Expect in 2022
A lot changed over the past year, but there’s still plenty to look forward to in 2022. The $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill was passed by Congress, and now it’s up to the states to determine how they will allocate the money. No matter how the funds are used, this bill presents a massive opportunity for the construction industry. We’re excited to see the new innovations and developments that come about over the next year!