2020 was a struggle for many businesses and industries in the UK and worldwide. Last year also proved that sometimes even the best thought out plans needed to be flexible to survive.
The construction industry was hit hard in 2020, with Brexit, climate activism and the coronavirus pandemic inflicting major difficulties on the sector. Like many other industries, construction was forced to react and adapt to the challenges it faced.
With 2021 well underway, the main question is if these three defining moments in history permanently shaped the construction industry. In the blog below, we’ll look at how these three key events have affected the sector and reveal our predictions for the new home construction trends in 2021.
Let’s dive in!
How has the pandemic affected construction?
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 impacted the construction industry and others massively. The biggest problem it inflicted was arguably the financial damage it caused too many construction companies and developers. However, there was one surprising and somewhat positive impact that Covid-19 had on the industry last year; the massive increase in safety on-site.
In order to stop the spread of Covid-19, the construction industry focused on implementing safety processes, which will undoubtedly continue to develop and increase in 2021. Social distancing between workers was strongly encouraged, as well as routine cleaning of equipment and workspaces.
Of course, keeping construction workers separate is easier said than done on a site, as teamwork and cooperation are key when it comes to building projects. Companies were forced to adapt. Instead, they focused on using smaller teams of workers and planned staggered shifts to limit the number of people on-site at any given time. Masks became mandatory, as well as an increased use of hand sanitiser.
As social distancing continues in 2021, it’s no surprise that site safety will continue to be a big focus for the construction industry.
How has digital technology transformed construction?
Before the coronavirus hit, 2020 was predicted to be a big year for digital technology in construction. Residential construction trends for 2020 all pointed to the sector finally turning a corner on digitisation.
With the vaccine rollout underway, there’s hope that social distancing restrictions will ease, and that the digital transformation in construction can begin. Some industry experts even believe that the pandemic can serve as a catalyst for digitisation!
Slowly, digital technology is continuing to influence the way we plan, develop and build in construction. So how exactly is it helping?
Collaborative software solutions: Being able to share real-time data is vital in the construction industry, but last year proved difficult for communication when the government issued a ‘stay at home’ order. As a result, collaborative software solutions saw a sharp rise in usage. These software solutions allowed multiple users to work together virtually to update data and complete tasks.
Wearable technology: Construction workers found themselves wearing technology embedded into their hardhats, gloves, safety vests and PPE. This tech can track their heart rate, body temperature, and other vital signs and can immediately notify safety managers if something is amiss.
(Of course, this is an expensive investment, and understandably, not all construction companies have this financial capability. Therefore other, less expensive, methods to monitor similar results are being used, including temperature checks on arrival to the site, sign-in procedures which ask some questions related to symptoms of illness and of course Covid amongst others)
Drones on-site: The automation of tasks with drones is having a big impact on safety and productivity in the construction industry. Although they’ll never fully replace human workers, drones are already being used to contribute to site surveying, inspecting structures, and making construction sites safer.
Smart homes adaptations with a focus on residential construction
The digital transformation of residential construction in the UK can be seen in the rise of smart homes. Homebuyers are increasingly looking for new developments that already have smart devices and features as standard. As a result, residential construction companies are now starting to implement smart devices into their developments and allow buyers to upgrade from standard fittings to smart ones. Some examples of smart devices that you could look at adding are:
Integrated smart systems
Sustainability in construction
There’s no denying that the construction industry is a big user of the planet’s natural resources. Over the past year, growing concerns over climate change swept across the UK, putting increasing pressure on the sector to look for ways to reduce its environmental impact.
As a result, we can expect to see more sustainable building methods being put to practice in 2021.
There has been an increase in the number of housing developers that have started using modular construction methods. This could be due to the fact that modular methods allow building firms to construct more environmentally friendly, attractive buildings at a fraction of the cost of brick and mortar. More homes, schools, hotels and hospitals can all be built in a rapidly short timeframe but will still last lifetimes.
Energy-efficient houses, also known as ‘green buildings,’ are increasingly attracting the attention of future buyers. As more people look for ways to minimise their carbon footprint, so too are they looking at how their homes can help. When compared to a conventional brick and mortar structure, green buildings:
Use less energy, water and natural resources
Are located and built with as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible
Create less waste
Like modular construction, it’s more than likely that we’ll start seeing more green buildings and homes being constructed too.
So is the UK’s construction industry growing?
At the moment, it’s tricky to predict what path the construction industry is on - but the positive news is that our industry is vital to the economy and has been a strong performer throughout the last 12 months.
It goes without saying that Brexit still leaves many unanswered questions for construction companies. Still, with people across the UK eager to get back to some kind of normal - the demand for housing and residential developments has never been higher.
We’re excited to play our part, and you can find more information about our latest projects here: https://www.finedaleconstruction.com/our-projects