Posted by Joe Gargiulo on Fri, Sep 21, 2018 @ 01:59 PM
As introduced in part one of this series, consumer and contractor demand for sustainable building materials, connectivity in the home and workplace, and an “easy button” for simplified installations have spurred a wave of new products and services.
The demand for sustainable products and technologies such as connected living and working spaces have been the harbinger of change in today’s building materials industry, but other trends are prompting positive changes affecting home and commercial construction.
This second and final part reviews technology, DIY trends and simplified installations. See part one for details about industry growth and sustainability in the building materials industry.
The line separating sustainability and technology is blurred in many areas where consumers demand energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprints. Consider the homeowner virtually living off the grid with natural lighting throughout the home, windows with low-E coatings, low flow toilets to conserve water consumption, a solar panel system on the roof, and an electric automobile in the garage.
A sampling of technological advances in building materials includes products such as:
- Hydroceramic bricks that can help reduce indoor temperatures by as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Photovoltaic glass offering light transmittance and power generation.
- Wool bricks combining wool with natural polymers.
- Light generating concrete that absorbs sunlight and radiates it after dark.
- Self-healing concrete utilizing. limestone-producing bacteria.
- Bioplastics combining polymers with algae that can be used in conventional plastic fabrication processes such as extrusion and injection molding.
- Hardwood cross-laminated timber sourced from renewable forests.
Smart Building Materials Technology
Smart home technology is not a building material per se, but it is now an integral component of nearly all new residential and commercial construction. This market growth is driven by increased consumer and business demand for interactive systems offering energy-efficient, automation and security.
An October 2017 report by Transparency Market Research states that the global market for commercial building automation reached $78 billion in the 2016 and is expected to grow to $108 billion by 2024 with a combined annual growth rate above four percent.
Smart systems in homes and commercial buildings can now automate a variety of functions including, entertainment, HVAC, lighting, security, blinds, locks, irrigation, vacuuming and more with connectivity to mobile apps and WiFi.
Finally, three-dimensional construction printers and aerial drones will continue to make their mark in the construction and building materials industries. Drones (i.e. unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV) have mostly been used for aerial observation and inspection, but they are already engaged in actual construction activities such as the automation of challenging mid-air parts and materials connections.
Do It Yourself Projects
IBISWorld says this growing trend — stimulated by the increased cost of homeownership — has contributed to growth in the building materials industry over the past five years. Common DIY projects range from the simple to the complex: painting, landscaping, flooring, plumbing fixtures, lighting and hardware replacement.
DIY projects by homeowners has also increased demand for simplified installations that help save time, money and stress.
The need for simplified installation has also been growing among contractors faced with rising overhead and a diminishing labor pool. The labor shortage is especially disconcerting, a fact underlined by the Q4 2017 Commercial Construction Index where it is stated that 91 percent of contractors had a moderate to difficult time finding skilled workers for their job openings.
A similar observation was made at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on March 29, 2017 where Senior VP Rory DeJohn of Turner Construction stated that the industry was employing 100,000 fewer workers despite returning to the production level attained in the previous peak year of 2007. “Younger people simply aren’t choosing careers in the industry,” he said.
Consequently, contractors are looking to manufacturers to make building materials easier to install: modular construction, new tools, improved materials, new-product demos, training videos and detailed installation instructions.
Offsite construction is a key component of simplified installations.
Construction Dive, an online construction news portal, covers offsite construction and stated that “a growing number of U.S. contractors partnered with prefab companies to fold the method into their operations.”
“Increased pressure from supply-side challenges and a growing need to jumpstart productivity will continue to drive offsite into the mainstream,” said Executive Director Tom Hardiman of the Modular Building Institute in a Construction Dive article. “Traditional contractors’ desire to increase project efficiency with offsite components is opening the door to greater collaboration between general contractors and offsite fabricators. Less than a decade ago, many projects were modular or conventional.”
Other Building Materials Services
Building materials producers, wholesalers and retailers will remain competitive by continuing to offer sustainable and easy-to-install products in conjunction with exceptional customer service and tech support, and sufficient inventories.
As a payments guarantee expert, CrossCheck provides favorable payment options at the point of sale with streamlined solutions that make buying easy for consumers and contractors.
In particular, CrossCheck’s Check on Delivery (COD) services simplifies building materials transactions because payments are guaranteed before the delivery trucks roll. COD is easy to use:
- Building materials retailers receive an approval number after entering the estimated amount of the sale and the customer’s phone number on CrossCheck’s online Merchant Check Center.
- Delivery drivers pick up check payments after dropping off the supplies.
- Checks are scanned with desktop imagers in the office and the data is sent to CrossCheck via its online Merchant Check Center where retailers enter the final amount and the check number.
CrossCheck can even handle the banking if dealers use COD in conjunction with electronic processing such a Remote Deposit Capture (RDC).
Download our free guide to learn how CrossCheck can help increase sales at your build materials dealership.
Tags: Building Materials