Residential construction industry trends have been anything but predictable over the last 18 months. A global pandemic, surging demand, supply chain constraints, and labor shortages all combined to give residential construction businesses challenge after challenge to overcome. In light of these persistent and everchanging events, we connected with seven companies to hear from owners, directors, and managers on how their businesses are continuing to adjust. The respondents answered questions regarding what coronavirus business tactics they plan on using for the foreseeable future, how their use of technology has changed since the start of the pandemic, and what other residential construction industry trends will be prevalent over the next 12 to 18 months.
See below for a synopsis of the answers provided by respondents as well as their full responses.
What business tactics from the coronavirus pandemic (video calls, remote work, advanced safety procedures) do you plan on using for the foreseeable future? Why do you plan on keeping these tactics in place?
Respondents noted that remote work and video meetings are here to stay. With everyone becoming more accustomed to Zoom calls the past year, residential construction businesses are continuing to use them as a means to save time in scheduling and conducting client meetings. The efficiency gained from not having to travel to and between job sites and saving out-of-state clients travel time are both seen as huge benefits.
“Our Construction Manager is a remote employee, we started this arrangement about 5 months before the Covid shutdowns started...some of my business mentors thought it would never work but it has gone very smoothly and will continue with daily video calls being a normal and efficient way to do business with our team, partners and clients. We are still doing most of our Design and Budget reviews with our clients via zoom or another video platform, there is no question that this is the most efficient way to handle these types of meetings and we will absolutely continue to schedule meetings like this, they take less planning and much less time without having to entertain folks or prepare our showroom for meetings.” Sean B. | Owner | Slate Creek Builders LLC
“We are continuing to work remotely but looking to come back into the office on a hybrid schedule as we purchased an office space during the pandemic that we are renovating. A lot of these tactics have been beneficial as it is a better use of our time and our client’s time when having virtual meetings or sharing screen recordings (Looms). A lot of the clients we build for live outside of our area so we can move projects along at a faster pace when communicating with clients virtually.” Brandon B. | Founder | Red Tree Builders
“Using video conferencing as a more permanent tool in day-to-day operations for additional efficiency.” Devon M. | Business Manager | Diamond Valley Custom Homes
How has your business’s use of technology to communicate with team members, trade partners, and clients changed since the start of the pandemic?
Where previously virtual meetings were frowned up, they are now the norm in the construction industry. For clients and contractors, internal team meetings, and meetings between contractors and trade partners, virtual meetings enable more collaboration than before. One contractor even noted that they are now charging clients for site visits to incentivize digital communication. Getting everyone online still remains a pain point but once people buy in they quickly reap the rewards.
“Being in the construction industry we’ve been really blessed that the pandemic only briefly slowed us down. Utilizing all the aspects of CoConstruct and other digital tools has only become even more important. Daily job logs and messages with clients using the platform allows all team members to stay in the loop. When it comes to bid requests and trade partners, the hardest part is getting them to utilize the system – but once they are ‘bought in’ it becomes hugely beneficial.” Max H. | Operations Director | Box Construction, Inc.
“More email and video call collaboration than ever before. We have begun to charge for site visits to incentivize customers to send images and communicate from distance as much as possible.” Dave C. | Founder | The Little Building Company
“It’s actually opened the door for communication for us. Virtual meetings are more convenient and we don’t have to work through lunch schedules, etc. It’s been tough, but one bright light in the pandemic was virtual meetings. We actually are able to meet with more people than we would have previously been able because a ‘virtual’ meeting for construction would have been unprofessional.” Josie C. | Office Manager | Rachel Brown Homes
What other residential construction industry trends do you think will be prevalent in the industry in the next 12-18 months?
Predictions for the next wave of residential construction industry trends include dedicated housing space for work or elderly family members, more remodeling projects in response to the shortage of available housing, and engaging the younger generations to meet the labor demands of the industry.
“The past year has been extremely difficult to maintain schedules with the shortage of skilled labor positions, there needs to be a trend toward engaging young people and getting them interested in learning a skill.” Dave C. | Construction Manager | Slate Creek Builders LLC
“Meeting that housing need in the most efficient way possible will become increasingly important over the next 12-18 months.” Brandon B. | Founder | Red Tree Builders
“As much pre-sales communication being done remotely as possible.” Devon M. | Business Manager | Diamond Valley Custom Homes
“Design services will continue to increase due to the pricing volatility that has eliminated some of the unique selections that could have been made in the 12 months but can’t now because of the price increases in lumber, concrete, etc.” Stephanie K. | Warranty Coordinator | Rachel Brown Homes
“There is going to be increased pressure to have dedicated working spaces in homes.” Dave C. | Founder | The Little Building Company
“We are noticing a lot of families are creating spaces for their elderly parents to live with them.” Max H. | Operations Director | Box Construction, Inc.