The construction industry is continuing to grow and evolve. According to the 2019 Dodge Construction Outlook, total construction starts will rise to $808.3 billion, up from $806.8 billion in 2018. At the same time, it’s in the midst of increased technology adoption. Achieving this level of growth and change creates challenges, from recruiting and retaining employees to digitization and communication.
We sat down with some of the top general contractors to get their thoughts on the top challenges are facing the construction industry.
Tighter construction budgets and timelines
“The biggest challenges construction faces are the time crunches, labor shortage, and construction budgets. More and more people are being told that they need to go to college, so we have fewer people joining the labor force. This is creating a whole mess of issues.
“At the same time, we need to cut costs and shrink our schedules. As an industry, we need to find tools that help us do that because right now construction is lagging in the tools that we have. We have all this cool technology, but it’s still humans doing the bricklaying. That’s just how the industry is, so we need to figure out where we can be more efficient in other areas to compensate for those compressed schedules and be able to do more work with less time and less money.”
– Britta Sortland Ryan, Senior Project Engineer, Ryan Companies
Technology adoption and labor shortages
“The construction industry is facing a lot of different challenges. It’s what you would call a dinosaur industry. We haven’t changed a lot in the last couple hundred years, but I think the tide is turning and we’re starting to see technology come in and influence new people and younger faces. People are going to college to get degrees in construction. Everything is starting to turn, and construction is becoming more efficient and more dynamic.”
– Michael Patt, Preconstruction Manager, SC Builders
“From our perspective, it’s people — finding the right people to be on your team and the subcontractors that you’re going to work with. It’s been really tough to find that and make our project teams work to get the projects complete.”
– Todd Merrill, Preconstruction Manager, SC Builders
Digitization and communication
“A general challenge facing the construction industry is that a lot of teams are working in silos. A lot of documentation is being done via paper, and it’s not being digitized, so it’s difficult to learn from historical information.”
– Tom Juntunen, Senior Cost Analyst, Truebeck Construction
“Construction projects are mass collaboration, so one big issue is always communication. There are challenges across the board to make sure that it’s open and free communication, from the subcontractors, owner, client, and architect to ourselves and the contractors.”
– Colin Skaggs, Cost Engineer, Truebeck Construction