Like everyone else, we're pretty sick of 2020 by now, so we've peered into our crystal ball, gazed into our future and come up with the following predictions of construction trends to look out for in 2021.
Prefabrication and modular buildings
Ordinarily, prefabrication tends to be a cheap and logistically simple solution to creating a building. However, in 2020, it took on even more significance - site access has been limited over the past year as we move in and out of various restrictions due to Coronavirus. Prefabrication or use of modular design mitigates lack of access to site, as the majority of the work takes place in a factory. Whereas you’d usually have people from several different companies mixing on site, undertaking the process within one, more easily controlled space clearly lowers the risk to workers’ health as well as mitigating the risk of sites being shut down. In fact, the modular construction industry is forecast to be worth $157.19 billion by 2023 as affordable housing demand skyrockets across the world.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is increasingly incorporated into the spaces we build, with smartphone-controlled doors and windows, climate control systems hooked up to the Internet and even self-watering lawns. Its utility isn’t limited to the end user though, IoT can make a huge difference in getting this new generation of smart homes built. From stock control to safety, IoT makes life on site that much easier for everyone. IoT-enabled PPE will inform managers and those with a responsibility for health and safety when accidents happen in real time. A smart-hopper will automatically order a new batch of 2mm packers as soon as its nearly empty. Temperature and pressure sensors will alert engineers to problems before they become dangerous. All of this will be automated and fed into data capture and analysis systems to further improve safety, procurement and a whole host of other on-site concerns.
Yes, this item has probably appeared in every single construction trend prediction article in living memory, but bear with us here. In 2018 and 2019, the Extinction Rebellion protests highlighted the problems faced by our climate and in 2020, we’ve seen the difference that a reduction in pollution can make on our cities. Therefore, it’s becoming more important than ever for companies to demonstrate that they appreciate the importance of climate change and are actively taking steps to reduce their own impact. From green buildings (in some cases, they’re literally green) to use of climate-friendly processes and materials, there are a huge number of small steps we could all take to ensure that the construction industry reduces its burden on the planet and its climate.
Although BIM has been with us for years now, the government’s target of everyone in AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) adopting BIM to level 2 by 2020 hasn’t quite been met (as of 2019, BIM adoption is at 69%, down slightly from 71% in 2018, as per the NBS national BIM report 2019). As with any change in working practices, there are a few reasons for resistance to BIM – technological, financial and staffing concerns have all been sited by non-adopters in surveys as barriers to their adoption. However, with the massive upheaval and changes forced on us all by Coronavirus, 2021 may be the year to bite the bullet and finally drag ourselves kicking and screaming into the 21st century! In conjunction with an uptick in remote working and increased utilisation of the cloud, we predict that improved uptake of BIM in 2021 will improve collaboration, efficiency and transparency across the industry.