Construction industry trends to watch in 2021
Darragh Timlin, director of Tradesman Saver, shares his predictions for the year ahead.
Despite the unimaginable upheaval that the world has seen over the course of 2020, the construction industry has managed to considerably weather the storm. Yes, some of our working practices have had to change in order to accommodate social distancing measures and generally improved safety around preventing the spread of Covid-19.
However, as a November 2020 report from the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive found, the pandemic itself “does not appear to be the main driver of change” to any major issues affecting construction workers.
Hopefully, by this time next year the pandemic will be pretty far in the rear-view mirror. However, that doesn’t mean that, at large, the construction industry won’t be impacted by some of the recent changes in 2021. Still, there are plenty of exciting and fascinating things our sector can look forward to.
Personal safety is more important than ever
We still need to start by thinking about the pandemic. The remarkable speed at which vaccines have been created and distributed is certainly cause for hope, but estimates still vary as to when exactly we will be able to return to something resembling normal. Until then, we still have to take every available precaution to look out for each other and our clients.
Where possible, limit the number of people working on any given site, or allocate split times for your teams to start on bigger jobs. Hand sanitiser and masks are still the order of the day, and you should make sure that nothing gets accidentally shared between team members, whether that’s tools, safety equipment, or cups of tea.
Looking out for the financial security of your workers will also be essential. Whether or not a team member may have fallen ill while on the job, taking out income protection insurance will be especially handy if any of your team does end up having to take time off from a job to quarantine. A policy like this will also give them peace of mind that they will still get paid a regular wage while they’re left unable to carry out their work on-site.
Open BIM enables more informed collaboration, resulting in better quality builds. Credit (all images): Reid Brewin Architectes
Having a piece of software that uses a non-proprietary-based data exchange means the files can be easily shared.
Eco-friendly construction will be a priority
With the climate crisis continuing to be of the utmost importance to governments all over the planet, the world’s most wasteful industries will need to up their game to meet worldwide emissions targets. The construction industry is no exception, but here in the UK, we’ve risen to the challenge with aplomb.
According to the most recent figures from DEFRA, the UK construction sector’s waste recovery rate has consistently been above the EU’s target, including a significant 0.5 million tonne reduction in the amount of hazardous waste generated.
This suggests that the industry as a whole has significantly improved its material efficiency – the ability to only manufacture and order what is needed. By eradicating any surplus materials, which would go straight to landfill, and making a point of contacting sustainable suppliers wherever possible, the construction industry can go even further to meet these essential targets in 2021.
Clients seek new ways of building
Whether as a result of the drive for sustainability, or as a way of cutting costs, one of the biggest trends in construction in recent years has been the rising demand for modular construction. While the UK’s 7.5% uptake has lagged considerably in comparison with other nations since 2017 – in Sweden, for example, nearly 84% of new builds have been constructing using this method – there has been increased investment in the modular approach to building new homes.
The benefits of modular construction are manifold, from the reduction in waste materials to the drastic cuts to both the cost and time a job will take. The almost Lego-like construction process will also allow teams to make quick and easy alterations to a building’s design if changes are requested by clients.
As such, it’s no surprise that some major chains are early adopters of the modular approach — in 2021, for example, we will see Marriott cutting the ribbon on the tallest hotel built using modular construction.