Looking forward: What does the future hold for construction?
The construction industry has often been said to be slow to change. However, with housing demand reaching an all-time high against a backdrop of reported skill shortages the industry seems more receptive to change than ever before.
As 2017 draws to a close we take a look forward at technologies likely to impact housing and construction:
Off-site construction is growing in popularity due to the potential time, cost and waste savings. The days of ugly post-war prefab homes are long gone, with modular off-site construction being adopted by organisations such as Legal & General and also being used for multi-storey developments.
Interest from the national house builders shows the industries appetite to adopt efficiency improving off-site technologies. However, time will tell whether off-site construction has shaken its ugly ‘pre-fab’ roots in the eyes of home buyers.
Above: The potential of off-site construction in the first prototypes delivered by L&G.
Technology within construction
In the years to come there will be a myriad of technological innovations which have the potential to improve the efficiency of builders on site. One of the biggest and most apparent is the use of 3d printing. 3d printing has already been adopted in other industries and has the potential to allow construction companies to quickly produce complex replacement parts cheaply on site and even ‘print’ entire buildings.
Above: See a house-building 3D printer at work
Advances in robotics also have the potential to revolutionise other trades, such as bricklaying.
Prototype robots have already shown they are capable of laying somewhere in the region of 3000 bricks a day.
Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Essentially a ‘joined up’ approach to building design BIM has already been declared a ‘game-changer’ by government. BIM will help the construction industry to eliminate design issues and integrate changes at an early stage in the process, stopping expensive excess on sites.
With the UK government setting ambitious targets for the use of BIM in both the public and private sector the technology looks set to grow rapidly in the UK:
“Our long term ambition is to be a global leader in the exploitation of this technology and increasingly as a supplier of BIM services and software by developing the UK’s capability in this area.”
Click here to view the Governments Indsutrial Strategy paper on BIM
Governments across the world are imposing rules on the use of BIM so keeping up to date on current legislation will be important for construction companies. The benefits and support for this technology mean that BIM is likely to become commonplace.
The Green Trend in Construction
As the impact the human race is having on the planet becomes more apparent, there has been a growing demand for environmentally sustainable buildings. The construction industry has seen a sharp uptake in the use of more sustainable, green materials and this will likely continue in the years to come.
New technology allows these green materials to be put to more varied use. For example, timber can now be used to construct much larger buildings than was possible in the past. Construction companies will need to embrace adaptability so as to incorporate new materials into their projects and take advantage of the opportunities they provide.