2016 has been, undoubtedly, an interesting year for the construction industry. In the midst of challenges, firms have had the watched the industry strengthen, explore new technologies, and put in place the foundations for further growth.
As we come to the close of the year, we’re looking back at 2016, and what trends we could be seeing in 2017. Think we’ve missed something? Join the conversation and have your say on Twitter.
Although heralded as a trend to watch in 2016, news on prefabricated buildings hasn’t been quite as common as we might have expected over the last twelve months. That’s not to say, however, that the idea has left the industry’s collective interest. During one of our Construction Roundtables (#CIRT), for example, our attendees agreed that prefabricating materials offsite could benefit productivity within construction – a hurdle the industry as a whole must overcome. What’s more, the recent Farmer Review publication highlighted prefabrication as a key tactic needed to push the industry forward. With that in mind, in 2017, we should look for prefabrication becoming more prevalent in the industry – especially as the UK housing crisis deepens.
2. A Greater Focus on Housing
As was made clear in the recent Autumn Statement announcement, the government has shown a willingness to invest huge sums of money into building affordable homes and homes in desirable areas. Connecting this investment with prefabricated buildings could be a key move in ending the housing crisis, and construction companies are sure to benefit from this increased investment from the industry’s most prevalent client: the people in charge.
3. Widespread VR
As early as January, professionals from a whole range of areas – including marketing and entertainment – were describing 2016 as the ‘Breakthrough Year’ for VR. Looking back over the last twelve months, it’s hard not to agree. VR is creeping into our homes, either through gaming consoles or mobile phone add-ons, and has already started to make an impact in the construction industry. Using virtual reality in construction gives clients a greater role in the decision making process and decreases costs by enabling project managers to work out areas for improvement before work has even begun. All of this is achievable now. With public interest still very much present, virtual reality will be something to watch on and off-site in 2017.
4. Bespoke Mobile Technology
Although you could accuse me of bias, I honestly believe – as do my colleagues – that bespoke software (particularly Cloud-based and running on mobile technology) will feature heavily in 2017’s construction trends. The reason for this will be the industry-wide challenge of tackling productivity. By implementing software which helps to manage personnel across a number of sites, all the while making data easily accessible to different project managers, firms will be able to make the most out of contractors’ time and deploy their employees more strategically.
Again, in tackling low productivity, we can expect to see more automation in construction over the coming year. This doesn’t necessarily mean robots churning out standardised components for construction projects – although that is a viable time-saving measure. Instead, we could see firms lean more heavily on drones and the various applications they offer to the industry, including surveying.
2016 has laid the foundations for 2017’s progress with many expected trends originating from this year’s most popular technology. We’re keen to see what new innovations and technological applications 2017 might offer up. With exciting new technology, increased government investment and key influencers calling for widespread change, the next twelve months could prove very interesting. We’re looking forward to it!