Something’s wrong when a term like “polar vortex” is trending on Twitter. Since early December bone-chilling cold and record snow have gripped the much of the nation. For the construction industry, now is the time of year when construction is heating up. But with many states still packed in snow, meeting existing deadlines and starting new construction is a monumental challenge.
It’s not for lack of effort. Hard-as-nails construction crews forge on through bitter cold, driving projects closer to completion. Despite their fortitude, countless construction sites have been shut down for the safety of workers. They’re all to be commended for their dedication.
Can Construction Rebound?
The situation gives way to several possible scenarios, all of which raise the question as to whether or not construction is capable of reaching McGraw-Hill’s projected 9 percent growth in 2014.
Amplified Labor Shortage
As projects shut down due to dangerous cold, construction schedules are compressed. With the spring thaw likely to bring many new projects the rising shortage of skilled labor may become a factor in starting and completing jobs on time.
Competing construction schedules have builders rushing to regain lost time. Labor will be just one source of tension for project managers. Construction materials. Shipping. Permitting. Everything is set to go into overdrive. Are project managers and industry suppliers up to the task?
Regaining Lost Revenue
For businesses looking to expand operations, delayed projects translate to lost productivity, or revenue, or both. Accelerated construction schedules can put projects back on track. Some businesses and builders may look to faster construction methods, such as component or modular building, to meet tight deadlines.
Despite 2014’s frigid start, some positive indicators suggest continued progress in construction won’t be swayed. The ACG’s analysis of newly released data from the Census Bureau revealed that, at 9.6 percent, January marked the largest increase in construction spending since 2006. Likewise, the AIA reported a decided upswing in new design work for January following two months of decline.
While the calendar shows spring is just around the corner, Mother Nature may well have different plans. Do you think construction will recover? What do you see as the critical elements to success in 2014?