Most contractors optimistic about commercial construction industry
- The Q1 2018 United States Gypsum (USG) + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index (CCI) report reflects an ongoing confidence in the industry, with more than 67% of contractors expressing optimism that 2018 will see increased demand. The January 2018 CCI score was 74 out of a possible 100, the same as for the fourth-quarter of 2017.
- The CCI, which uses research from Dodge Data & Analytics, focuses on and assigns scores to three primary drivers — backlog (73), new business (76) and revenue (72). The CCI backlog score was down two points from the fourth quarter, but the measure is healthy at an average of 8.9 months. Scores for both new business and revenues were up by one point each, with contractors expecting to pull in more money and land more contracts.
- Even with confidence high, contractors are having to find ways to deal with an industry-wide labor shortage. Of the contractors surveyed, 89% said a benefit of prefabrication and modular construction is the increased efficiency. Contractors also saw the value in terms of productivity (85%), the ability to shave costs from project budgets (58%) and competitive advantage (51%). According to the CCI report, 50% of contractors are already using these methods, with general contractors (72%) the most invested.
While more contractors are looking at prefabrication as a way of increasing productivity and efficiency, companies like Gaston Electrical have been using it as a tool for quite some time and reaping the benefits. Gaston principal Bill Weber told Construction Dive last year that the company's ability to prefabricate 20- to 30-foot corridor-length panels, or MEP racks, with other mechanical and plumbing contractors have reduced the company's onsite labor needs, in some cases by 50%.
On a bigger scale, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation in January installed two spans of a 45-foot-tall, 4-million-pound prefabricated railroad truss bridge along a stretch of Interstate 235 in Oklahoma City. ODOT officials said that because the bridge was built offsite, they were able to replace that section of highway with fewer lane closures, creating less chaos and confusion on surrounding roadways.
Modular construction can also provide a payoff for contractors by eliminating the need for some of the traditional workforce. According to Lad Dawson, founder and former CEO of Guerdon Modular Buildings, Boise, Idaho, this method can absorb up to 60% of a project's labor requirements.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce USG + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index - 2018 Q1
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter