Embracing tech may be the best way to cut construction costs - but where to start?
There was an interesting article by Chuck Sudo (writing for BisNow.com) circulating across industry channels over the past few days titled "Embracing Tech May Be The Best Way To Cut Construction Costs".
The trend of rising construction costs appears to be a global one, with Irish and UK builders experiencing similar increases since the start of the year. While cost hikes in parts of the US hit 5.35% in Q.1 2018, the SCSI puts the figure for the same period in Ireland at 3%, which is still significant. Of course, in North America, the industry is just starting to feel the effects of fabricators rising prices of their materials in the wake of the Trump administration announcing a 25% steel tariff.
Going back to basics, developers and builders are looking at what costs they effectively have control over and they appear to be reaching the same conclusion - that is, utilising emerging technologies is key to delivering cost benefits.
Many of these new technologies are best incorporated at the pre-development stage, long before work on a site even begins. The article describes these as "digital master plans” and, when used correctly, they become cost-saving measures for the development. One example of this is local government incorporating a broadband planning questionnaire into its design review process. By having a such a technology plan in place, builders effectively future-proof the building and ensure that this particular issue does not present a costly retrofitting challenge further along in the project. And the technology is merely one aspect, the same might apply around issues of sustainability and wellness. This is increasingly important as end occupiers are overwhelmingly prioritising all of these factors, alongside location and cost, in a way that the industry has never experienced before.
Another example of leveraging technology pre-development to achieve significant costs savings is by using 3D modelling to enhance the offsite manufacturing process.
It is well established that offsite manufacturing is one of the keys to achieving labour cost efficiencies.
When looking at the renovation of significant or historic buildings, investment in laser scanning to facilitate in-house as-built renderings of the project is likely to pay off. The article cites one development company that takes advantage of this technology by laser scanning all of the formwork before pouring concrete in order to document the location of embedded steel, plumbing and electrical work. The overarching theme is the importance of developers focusing "for the first time, on tenants' needs today and tomorrow".
This is great, in theory. In practice, it can be difficult to know where to start. The onslaught of innovation and new technologies can actually become a barrier to industry adoption, but this need not be the case.
Contact us at www.EvolusionInnovation.com today to discuss your project and let our expert team advise on requirements and international best practice.