It’s difficult to tell what the top issues facing the construction industry will be year to year. There are always trends at the end of 2018 that are likely to continue into 2019, but things change year over year. Here are some of our predictions for the top issues facing the construction industry in 2019.
One of the top issues facing 2019 is a continuation of a problem encountered in 2018, the construction industry labor shortage. As 2018 comes to an end there are roughly 290,000 open construction industry jobs, and finding skilled laborers is extraordinarily difficult. With the unemployment rate being so low, companies have to attract workers that already have jobs. As such most companies are experiencing high turn over, with some companies seeing as much as 50% loss to competitors. This is predicted to continue to be a top issue into 2019.
Companies already are having to look at their compensation plans, salary, and other benefits to be able to retain current workers and attract new workers. One strategy moving forward is for companies to invest in worker training and apprenticeships. This gives companies a chance to find the skilled labor they need in order to continue their project load.
The tariffs are another top issue for 2019. The tariffs are set to take full effect on January 1st of 2019, and while a deal seems to be underway there are no guarantees yet. Currently, the tariffs have raised the price of steel, aluminum, timber, and more. Some building material costs have increased by 20% so far with an estimated increase starting in January. These tariffs can increase the overall cost of construction making it harder for contractors to guarantee material costs. The inability to guarantee material costs could result in contractors eating more of the cost of a project and losing a lot of potential for profit.
There isn’t a clear way for contractors to protect themselves. Some have added clauses in the contract allowing them to adjust material costs. However, that can make owners and clients nervous not to know what the material cost will be ahead of time.
Similar Levels of Activity
Another top issue facing the construction industry in 2019 is the leveling off of activity. While 2018 actual starts haven’t come in yet, it was predicted to be $806.8 billion dollars. And 2019 starts are predicted to be close to $808.3 billion dollars. This shows a potential leveling off of construction projects and construction growth. While this means that companies will still be busy, it isn’t the nearly 5% growth in projects we’ve seen within the past couple of years. It could also be the start of leaner times ahead. In all, it is another reason to determine what processes should be improved before getting too far into the year. Because improving processes and preparing strategies for a leveling off of activity will benefit businesses long run.
Overwhelming Number of Solutions
This is both a top issue and a top benefit going into 2019, all of the construction technology solutions. This year has proven to be the year of construction technology with many investment firms and other large corporations investing over $1 billion in the industry. While this promises to increase available technologies and improve many issues within the industry, it’s also causing issues. Most general contractors and subcontractors use different technologies that don’t always communicate with each other. Or companies might use tools for viewing or creating plans, estimating, accounting, and project management, but companies might have to take multiple steps in order to get information from one system into another. Or worse, they might have to enter all the information each time for each system. This creates an excess of work for employees and is point solution chaos.
Point solution chaos is set to be a top issue in 2019 if companies don’t work together to integrate successfully. Construction companies can try to protect themselves against this by demoing products and emphasizing the need for their software solutions to have a home. This home integrates with the point solutions to give construction companies the best of breed.
With the possibility of an economic downturn, it is time to invest in the correct tools for your business. To ensure payment on work completed, subcontractors must invest in a project management system that integrates with their current systems. Having this in place ensures that they have accurate documentation of their work, can avoid double entry, and can protect their profits.