Construction Priorities in the Post-Pandemic World

The construction industry, as we know it, is rapidly changing. With Brexit followed by the pandemic, the industry is set to change drastically. Experts are predicting various changes in the near future. Increased digitisation, the rapid shift towards off-site manufacturing, continued focus on fire safety, sustainability and improvements in supply chain management are the emerging trends of the post-pandemic construction world.

Importance of MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) in Post-Pandemic Construction

With the pandemic bringing in focus the dangers of large gatherings, we predict a further shift towards off-site manufacturing. Modern Methods of Construction will be in demand and elements and subsystems that can be moved off-site will be preferred over traditional methods. These will be pivotal in reviving the industry. Suppliers and subcontractors should identify elements from frames to volumetric modules that can be preassembled in a controlled environment to increase efficiency.

We believe these shifts towards off-site manufacturing could lead to innovations in the field of MMC that could facilitate building-site activities. The shift towards more MMC will also bring about increased sustainability with the minimisation of waste materials.

Earlier this year we asked Matthew Cook, Director at Building Design Consultants his views on Construction Priorities – “In our experience, MMC offsite build of houses is still developing and lessons learnt need to be fed back. Further developers need to understand that the upfront design programs need to reflect the MMC. “

MMC, standardisation and offsite will be areas of focus for construction added Marina Lazar, a Senior Structural Engineer at Clarkebond.

Better Supply Chain Management in Post-Pandemic Construction

In the post-pandemic world, there will be an increase in the importance of Supply Chain Management. The focus will be on building inventory, recruiting direct labour to replace subcontractors and identifying backup distribution channels. Fortification of the supply chains will be of crucial importance to reduce risk and steadily increase future productivity.

Emphasis on Digitisation 

Digitisation will play a significant role in the construction industry post the pandemic. Smart organisations which scale up remote collaboration from the initial stages will emerge as industry leaders. Contractors focusing on digitising the process from the production stages up until the final stages will be more likely to succeed. The use of a digital model with minimal physical interactions will be the need of the industry post-pandemic.  The demand for 3D configuration tools like CABS will be on the rise to reduce physical interaction to the bare minimum.

Another vital role of the digitisation of the industry will include a shift to an e-commerce model. In the past, this has been missing in the industry with sale methods being more traditional. Manufacturers who are able to switch to digitally-enabled remote sales effectively will be able to navigate through the post-pandemic construction world.

“Digitisation will be a major player in the industry in the coming 12 months, although it has been around a while more companies will be using this going forward”, added Nigel, Head of Technical at Durkan

A focus on sustainability in Post-Pandemic Construction

Sustainability will play a vital role in the post-pandemic world. This will include a focus on designs that inspire healthier living. We expect the government to take a more sustainable approach by introducing measures to reduce carbon emissions through policy changes and direct public investments. Around 230 councils in England have declared a climate emergency and two-thirds of the councils are aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030. The goal is to transition to a low carbon economy.

A trend shifting towards more sustainable buildings and communities will be on the rise. The focus will be on more outdoor space, recycled and sustainable materials, higher standards on air quality and more local amenities, to name a few.

“Sustainability is a factor that is becoming more important as the general public become more and more aware of the issues and construction projects need to demonstrate how changes are being made to make projects more sustainable” added Matthew Cook of Building Design Consultants

Brexit Leading to Labour Shortage in Construction

While the pandemic has undoubtedly sparked various trends in the field of construction, the severe other factor affecting the industry is Brexit. According to a report by the ONS, 7% of the construction workers in the UK are migrants from the EU. In bigger cities like London, this number jumps to 28%. Besides this, over 50,000 UK born construction workers are in the age range of 50-54, just 10-15 years away from retirement. This is the most common demographic among the UK born construction workers. The EU and non-EU workers fill the younger age demographic among the construction workers. These are some factors that are bound to impact the industry resulting in a labour shortage in the country in the coming years.

We recommend hiring EU nationals already working in the UK currently to retain them in the country post Brexit. The government is more likely to grant permission to workers already working in the country. Post the implementation; it will be increasingly difficult to get the permits for low-skilled labourers that are in high demand in the construction sector.

An attendee of our event at The Shard in February, added: “Labour and skills will be a significant challenge post Brexit for the construction sector. How are we going to sustain the workforce and add 30,000+ houses?”

Fire Safety in Construction

Fire Safety is an essential yet complex area the construction industry must continue to address. Many factors come into play when addressing fire safety in the construction, but it continues to be a construction priority.

“Fire safety is a very important consideration in construction, and it is vital that details developed in a design office are simple to understand and implement on-site to ensure that these are followed through at site level” – commented Matthew Cook, Director at Building Design Consultants

“Fire safety is paramount in construction both in the passive element that is built into the building as well as minimising the risk of the operatives during the building process through safe work, systems and material storage” added Nigel Shields of Durkan