Top 3 Trends for Commercial Construction and Masonry in 2022
How companies handle these trends in 2022 and beyond may determine which firms grow stronger or get left behind
As with many other sectors, the commercial construction and masonry industries continue to be greatly impacted by changes ushered in during the pandemic. The industry has had to adjust in unexpected ways. For example, a swifter uptake of technology to substitute for in-person contact has helped speed up innovations in the way business is done. Worker dissatisfaction across different industries, resulting in The Great Resignation, has people considering different vocations—including construction. Meanwhile, the industry is still feeling the effects of a lagging supply chain and the increased cost of materials
2022 poses many unique challenges and opportunities, and here are the top 3 trends we believe will have the greatest effect on the commercial construction and masonry sectors this year.
- Integration & Increased Use of Construction Technology
Firms that are willing to integrate technology into their operations are going to have the upper hand. Consider how communication norms have changed since the pandemic. The necessity to scale back in-person meetings has led to a more streamlined and accepted way of collaborating during the pre-bid process to enhance an understanding of the projects without a physical site visit.
Technology continues to play an important role in the planning stages of projects. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is helping aid with the conceptualization and forecasting of projects and the detection of any potential challenges that might arise before the project is underway.
Skilled workers will always be needed in the field of construction and masonry but there is room for new technology to play a strong complementary role in shoring up issues dealing with productivity and safety. Drones can be used to capture images of difficult-to-reach areas, while robots and other integrated construction equipment can help people avoid more dangerous tasks. With regards to the wellbeing of workers, repetitive and less safe tasks that can be accomplished through new machinery with great accuracy, while safeguarding the health, safety, and longevity of employees.
Christy Crook, President of Phoenix Masonry, Inc. reiterates the growing importance of technology, albeit one that still lags behind other industries: “There’s a lot of really cool robotics happening in construction right now…younger workers really are interested in that because it saves their bodies. [But] it’s still so expensive [that it’s] prohibitive. So I’m watching that to see how it transforms the industry.” As for the current practical ways tech is being introduced, Christy is always on the lookout for ways to improve collaboration efforts, “researching some different ways that we can do better project management and have better organization and communication in between the office and the field.”
- Supply Chain & Material Cost Challenges
The lead time for delivery of materials has been double or triple the time it has taken pre-pandemic and this is likely to remain the case in 2022. Firms will have to learn how to work around the uncertainty of these delivery times as they organize their upcoming projects. Delays in materials will inevitably affect the timelines for work to be completed. In relation to the supply chain, Christy echoes, “I think we’re going to continue seeing it for a little while…supply chain issues are going to be a challenge through the end of the year, if not even a little bit beyond that.”
Not only are construction firms contending with availability issues when it comes to materials, they are also going to be paying higher than normal prices for these supplies. The past year has seen a huge jump in construction material prices. According to Christy, “Price escalations is one of the things that we’re most concerned about. One of the ways we try to combat this is when we’re in our negotiation process. I try and get price escalation clauses. And we talk to our general contractors to see if they have any contingency plans.”
Just as Phoenix Masonry has done, it is clear that companies will need to deal with unforeseen delays and be nimble when it comes to scheduling projects. Accurate pricing and efficient use of materials will play a key role in being competitive in the market.
- Focus on Worker Health & Quality of Life
The limiting factor for many construction firms who are looking to keep pace with a rebounding market is the lack of skilled workers. The construction trades have historically had a problem with recruiting new people. Christy admits, “I think there’s a lot of stigma in the world around work in the trades.” Because of this, the company has made a concerted effort to emphasize the benefits of working in the industry. She says, “What we really try and do is focus on the incredible opportunities in the trades. The ability to go in and do an apprenticeship for two years, and then be making really good money without having to have student loan debt.” This is an especially important message to get across as more workers are retiring than joining the ranks. For this reason, retaining employees and ensuring their working conditions are beneficial will be of higher importance in 2022 and beyond. For their part, Phoenix understands that what they can offer will play a big role in attracting quality employees and retaining them. Of their offer, Christy identifies one of the most important pieces as, “making sure that our benefits packages are meeting the needs of our employees.”
Companies would do well to seek a new group of workers who may not have previously considered construction and masonry work. Part of this recruitment effort will mean reframing the notion that construction is unskilled, dangerous labor that does not pay well. In reality there are many different types of high-paying jobs and opportunities for career advancement. The draw of working outside of an office setting and working with one’s hands could prove enticing for those who are looking for a vocational change.
Phoenix places an emphasis on safety-training and career advancement opportunities for those who have the desire to further their careers. The company also offers generous pay packets and health benefits. If you’re considering a career in the trades or looking for a career full of growth, meaning, and opportunities, use the following link and apply for a job at Phoenix: https://phoenix-masonry.net/careers/