Should Trends in the Construction Industry Make You Rethink Your Estimating Processes?

October 9, 2019 Steve Watt

Analysts and media outlets love to make predictions. And they have no shortage of them when it comes to forecasting what lies ahead for the construction industry. You may feel like some of the trends are sensationalized. Or maybe you don’t think they apply to your business.
 

But in the many articles and studies published about the current and future challenges facing construction, there are a handful of topics that pop up consistently. And they’re so relevant and undeniable that few, if any, in the construction business are immune to their impact. 

 

These trends are giving future-focused construction contractors pause, causing them to take a closer look at their processes and find ways to be more flexible and efficient—or risk falling behind.

 

Get this essential guide to see how estimating software can help you keep pace.

 

4 Trends that Challenge Your Current Construction Estimating Process

Disruption, innovation, and market fluctuations all shine a spotlight on just how well your daily operations and core processes are working for you. 

 

For construction companies, producing cost estimates efficiently and accurately is paramount to winning more bids and staying competitive. But some are still estimating using manual processes dependent on paperwork, spreadsheets, and the specialized knowledge and practices of individuals. 

 

When produced manually, estimates are more time-consuming and prone to error. And outdated manual processes hamstring your ability to quickly and easily adapt to industry trends and changes at the pace required. 

 

The reality is that the construction industry isn’t going to slow down or stop evolving. Each of the following four trends has the potential to disrupt and permanently change the industry as a whole, and at the same time challenge you to rethink your current processes. 

 

Continued Construction Labor Shortage

Companies are still dealing with the after-effects of the 2008-09 market crash during which many skilled construction laborers left the industry in search of other work. Once the market recovered, there were fewer skilled laborers and craft workers available to fill the surplus of construction jobs. This deficit continues today. 

 

Compounding the issue, the unemployment rate has hovered slightly above record lows for some time now, and fewer people are pursuing careers in construction. This is creating an acute labor shortage that can’t meet the increased demand. 

 

The shortage of skilled personnel includes construction cost estimators. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth for cost estimators will increase by 11% by 2024, creating fierce competition among construction firms to find and retain experienced estimators.  

 

To succeed in these times, you need to be as efficient as possible. Dedicated construction estimating software provides the standardized and repeatable processes needed to increase productivity and do more with the team you have. It also gives you the ability to effectively capture the knowledge and best practices of your senior estimators and hedge against the potential loss of a key member of your team. 

 

Increased Emphasis on Offsite Construction

Spurred along by the labor shortage, there’s a growing movement toward offsite construction. Modular structures and prefabricated building components require less labor, as well as allow for greater quality control and increased safety. 

 

Prefabrication and offsite construction are also seen as predictable ways to achieve greater cost and schedule certainty. Offsite construction can deliver projects between 30-50% faster than traditional methods, alleviating much of the worry around weather and other delays since the construction is happening in a more controlled environment. 

 

But construction companies that want to offer these options to owners need to significantly adjust their internal planning and construction processes, including estimating. As offsite construction continues to make inroads into the mainstream construction industry, your current pricing formulas will need to adapt to accommodate the trend. 

 

A construction estimating software solution that integrates with your current cost modeling tool allows you to easily make those pricing adjustments. It also gives you the ability to offer owners offsite construction alternatives so they can understand and evaluate the impact on cost, time, and risk. 

 

More Demand for Resiliency

Weather disasters like hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and wildfires cause significant damage and destruction to buildings. And the number of weather disasters is on the rise, with a reported 46% increase in the number of weather-related disasters from 2000 to 2016. 


In 2017, Hurricane Maria damaged or destroyed
more than 160,000 homes, schools, and other structures
in Puerto Rico, requiring an estimated $33 billion to repair
and rebuild homes and $15 billion for schools.

 

Particularly in high-risk areas, owners are looking for ways to proactively address the challenges of weather events and mitigate the financial impact of rebuilding structures that have been destroyed by natural disasters. This presents a critical opportunity for construction companies. 

 

Your ability to propose adaptive design approaches and resilient features can position you to help owners in risk-prone areas better protect against damage. But exploring construction options and alternatives is difficult when you’re estimating using manual processes. Dedicated construction estimating software allows you to create what-if scenarios and value engineer your estimates, demonstrating greater value to your customers. 

 

Untapped Opportunities for Digitalization

As the business world moves steadily toward more digital solutions and tech innovation, construction is facing the same urgency to adapt. Already, technologies that enable digital collaboration and mobility solutions have soaked up 60% of venture funding in the construction technology sector. And 98% of construction and engineering respondents in a recent survey agreed that digital solutions are critical to the viability of their companies in the future.   

 

Dedicated estimating software is a great first step to digitalization.
Learn more in this essential guide.

 

With the advent of cloud computing, construction companies can run far more efficient business operations through integrated, automated, cloud-based software platforms that provide field, office, and project teams with the same data in real time, helping to break down department silos that hinder communications and information access. 

 

As the trend to innovate and digitally transform operations continues, construction estimating software provides a low-hanging-fruit opportunity. It’s an easy-to-adopt technology solution that can help you keep pace, speeding up estimate creation, improving accuracy and productivity, increasing collaboration, and even integrating with your other software tools.

 

  Construction is among the least digitized
sectors in the world. In the United States, construction
comes second to last in digitization.

—McKinsey Global Institute

 

Modernization Starts with Construction Estimating Software

The most successful construction companies know that they need to continuously improve and keep up with best practices. This means regularly evaluating business-critical processes and being willing to embrace new solutions to old problems. 

 

More than just a trending topic, digitalization is the wave of the future. And the adoption of proven technology tools can deliver business-changing benefits that don’t just help you solve the current challenges you face but also position you to take advantage of new opportunities, too. 

 

Database-driven construction estimating software can help your estimating team produce estimates more accurately, quickly, and efficiently. If you’re ready to modernize your processes to not just survive but thrive through changing times, streamlining and optimizing your estimating process is a natural place to start.

 

To learn more about the advantages of construction estimating software, get your copy of the Essential Guide to Estimating Solutions.

 

About the Author

Steve Watt

Steve Watt is market segment manager of the General Contractor/Construction Manager Division of Trimble Buildings, which is focused on technology solutions that improve collaboration, efficiency and accuracy across the Design-Build-Operate (DBO) lifecycle of buildings. Trimble applies solutions such as positioning technologies, asset management and task- or user-specific software applications to help businesses become more productive.

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