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 WORKPLACE WOES 01The construction industry may be flourishing, but finding workers is not easy.

By Jim Lappin

Hiring managers have their fingers directly on the pulse of the U.S. economy, and they're feeling a steady heartbeat of demand, particularly in the cyclically sensitive construction industry. Within the last 60 days across the United States, advertised management roles in construction have grown by almost 27 percent, with 62 percent growth across all construction and extraction occupations. Population growth, deteriorating infrastructure and aging buildings are driving demand for executives who can stay in front of current and future trends.

 RENT VS OWN 01Fewer and fewer contractors are buying and owning their construction equipment.

By Tim Hyer

When people hear the word “construction,” their minds often become filled with images of equipment – excavators, backhoes and forklifts.  Heavy equipment and contractors go hand-in-hand since it takes the right tools to get the job done.  Some contractors even name their trade based on the types of equipment they use – excavation contractors, demolition contractors and asphalt paving contractors, for example.

OP CIVIL openerBy James White

Not long ago, it would have been rare to see high-end smartphones, tablets and mobile devices on the job site. This is not just because they’re expensive and fragile, but because there was no need for them — or, at least, that was the consensus. Why would you want your foreman or craftsmen fidgeting with their mobile instead of paying attention to their duties anyway?

OP RESIDENTIAL opener

By Mitch Hires

The multifamily housing market has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the past decade. The sector is poised for strong growth in 2016 with new plans for construction and remodeling set to take center stage. The expected growth is largely the result of today’s relatively stable economic climate, as construction and development companies along with renters and homeowners recognize that now marks the right time to build and buy. All the while, younger generations are flocking to major cities to be where the action is. Empty nesters are also consolidating and migrating into these major metropolitan neighborhoods. A growing consensus and shared desire across multiple generations to work, live and play in one vicinity is strengthening the ever-growing multifamily housing market.

A Growing Market

In 2009, multifamily housing across the US dropped to a low of 75,000 units per year, according to US News and World Report. Following this turbulent period of economic unrest and uncertainty, housing developers and construction companies faced many challenges in looking to reignite their businesses and multifamily construction projects. Over time, the economy began to slowly bounce back, and Americans cautiously restored their faith in the overall economic environment. As capital became more accessible, developers saw a growing need for multifamily housing and an increased demand for rebuilds and remodels among home and property owners. In 2015, Freddie Mac revealed that the multifamily rental market experienced its strongest post-recession growth with 306,000 multifamily units completed and entered into the market. This growth marked the largest increase in a single year since 1989, and was largely the result of favorable demographic trends and widespread economic growth across the country.

As property owners continue to realize that now is an ideal time to sell and reinvest in properties, multifamily construction activity continues to be above historical averages in more than one-quarter of the nation's largest metropolitan housing markets, according to Trulia. Cities like Atlanta are considered the largest markets in the nation for this type of growth. Developers are exploring new ways to capitalize on the growing shift back to cities and building projects that offer increased accessibility.

Millennials on the Move

Across the nation, developers are witnessing millennials push into cities where they can enrich their professional and personal lives. Additionally, older generations including empty nesters are also expressing a growing desire for simpler lifestyles with easier access to the amenities and features they want most out of their developments. This shift is driving a higher demand for mixed-use communities as these demographic groups further distance themselves from traditional philosophies of living in single-family homes far from the center of towns.

For construction companies and developers, this trend has become particularly advantageous as they look to build multifamily developments that offer residents everything they need right outside their door. At the same time, property owners are looking to invest more heavily in shared spaces such as residence lobbies, pools, laundry facilities and common rooms to meet the lifestyle desires of simplicity among their residents. Although many developers were keen to invest in these areas several years back, economic instability depressed metropolitan prospects for businesses and property owners’ abilities from pursuing remodels and development projects. Today, as the economy continues to stabilize, business and property owners are likely to pursue these projects to further grow their businesses.

Looking ahead, multifamily housing is expected to experience robust growth in 2016, with over 380,000 apartment units expected this year. Over the next several years, the multifamily sector will continue to grow in tandem with the economy. Soon enough, there will be a strong possibility that multifamily projects will begin to incorporate business and office-like projects into multifamily developments, taking the concept of living and working in one area to a whole new level.

Mitch Hires is the CEO of Construction Resources, Inc., the leading provider and installer of building products in the Southeast region, following its recent merger with Builder Specialties, Inc. With the help of his brother Sonny and their partners, Hires oversees the 45-year-old family business that provides residential and commercial builders/remodelers, as well as homeowners with a one-stop shop for their kitchen, bath, flooring, and specialty needs. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from The University of Georgia.

OP NY NJ opener

By David J. Pfeffer and John J. Walsh

Is modular building the next big thing in the Big Apple? As little as one year ago, many well-respected members of New York’s construction industry might have answered with a resounding “yes.” Modular building offers developers the possibility of significantly reducing the time and cost associated with ground-up construction. The ability to pre-fabricate entire units, deliver them en masse to a project site and quickly stack them atop one another can, in theory, drastically reduce the time between groundbreaking and completion, leading to major cost reduction, given the ever-increasing costs of labor and overhead.

However, recent developments and challenges in the local modular building industry have led some to question whether modular development is right for New York.

OP COMMERCIAL opener

By Todd Andrew

In this line of work, we’re all too familiar with the worst-case scenarios that can develop between general and subcontractors.  A quick scan of recent headlines reveals unfortunate conflicts in every corner of the industry.

* In North Carolina, major road repairs came to a sudden halt when the primary subcontractor unexpectedly walked off the job. The company says it made the decision “pending resolution of sizable claims,” calling the payment process “broken.”

* In Massachusetts, the courts ruled that a subcontractor was not entitled to partial payment after refusing to perform disputed asbestos removal. At the heart of the matter was whether such work fell within the scope of the contract.

* And in Oregon, legal action is underway in a $3 million breach-of-contract case between a foresting company and its timber management subcontractor.

Despite all parties’ best efforts, lawsuits and other dust-ups are often natural side effects of doing business. Bad things happen to even the most cautious, well-intentioned companies, regardless of industry. 

IBS 2016

(Photo credit: © Oscar Einzig Photography)

IBS drew in attendees with its exceptional attractions, including The New American Home®.

By Alan Dorich

Each year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) make Design & Construction Week® (DCW) a must-see event for everyone involved in residential construction and design. “We’re looking to put all things related to our industry in one place,” NAHB Senior Vice President for Exhibitions & Meetings Geoff Cassidy says. 

Institutional

By Ralf R. Rodriguez and Monique S. Cardenas

Contractors performing work for federal, state and local government agencies must be careful to avoid submitting what may be considered a false claim. Under the Federal False Claims Act (FCA) and other similar state statutes, including Florida's False Claim Act, contractors can be liable and exposed to sanctions for conduct that may be permissible – and in some instances considered standard operating procedure –on private projects.

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