2016 turned out to be quite a busy year for contractors. To help you start this year strong, consider four key takeaways from 2016 and how they could impact your business in 2017.
- U.S. Construction Activity Continued to Climb
2016 construction projects were on a steady rise throughout the year. Dodge Data & Analytics released its 2017 outlook, predicting new construction projects will rise 5 percent to $713 billion (up 4 percent from 2016), suggesting contractors should be busy at the start of 2017.
The yearly report specified areas of growth and decline:
- Single-family housing: +12% in dollars, +9% in number of units
- Multifamily housing: same in dollars, -2% in number of units
- Commercial building: +6 % in overall starts
- Institutional building: +10% in overall starts
Moving forward in 2017: With overall building expected to climb again across the U.S., contractors will be plenty busy at the outset of 2017. Make sure you’re ready for a fast start by taking advantage of your off-season.
- OSHA Updated Key Safety Standards
OSHA recently announced a final ruling on its Walking-Working Surfaces standards, specifically fall hazards. Perhaps most notably, the update revised employer requirements for using personal fall-protection systems. The rule takes effect January 17, 2017, and is expected to affect 112 million workers at 7 million job sites across the U.S. OSHA predicts the new standard will prevent 29 deaths and 5,842 injuries annually.
Moving forward in 2017: Contractors can now choose fall-protection systems that work best for them. Important updates include:
- Increased flexibility in choosing fall protection systems:
- For example: The existing mandate to use guardrails as a primary fall protection has been replaced by contractors’ ability to choose from accepted fall protection systems they believe will work best in certain scenarios
- Moreover, contractors can now use non-conventional fall protection in specific situations, like designated areas on low-slope roofs
- The requirement of protection systems for surfaces 6 feet or higher
- The prohibition of body belts as part of a personal fall-arrest system
- Required training on personal fall-protection systems and fall equipment
OSHA rules vary by region. Check with your local supplier or municipality for laws and regulations specific to your area.
- Labor Challenges Continued
In 2016 the number of available skilled laborers struggled to keep up with the demand and consistent growth of construction projects, presenting a significant challenge for contractors.
- Construction Outlook’s Q3 2016 report found that while skilled labor job openings have increased across the U.S., they have gone unfilled due to a lack of skilled laborers
- The size of the labor pool ultimately stayed the same from Q2-Q3
Moving forward in 2017: With overall construction jobs booming, demand for additional skilled laborers is expected to remain high for another 12-18 months. To alleviate some pressure, contractors and project managers are using project management technologies and hardware innovations to streamline processes.
- Jobsite Technology Thrived
Technology played a key role in helping construction professionals tackle jobs more efficiently in 2016, helping contractors manage projects on the go and in the field.
Moving forward in 2017: Professional contractors will start to see wearable equipment that will further enhance jobsite efficiency and safety.
- Wearable technology, such as smart hats, shoes, glasses and watches, was also on the rise, with its market surpassing $4 billion in 2017
- Smart hard hats that can display work instructions and 3D mapping of jobsites
- Safety vests infused with GPS devices enabling workers to request help at a geo-targeted location, along with systems that alert workers entering pre-defined danger zones
Along with tools like ABC Supply’s Pictureit, virtual visualization models are increasingly being used.
- Modeling helps contractors and their customers visualize a job before it begins
- Enhance your sales process with virtual renderings using a comprehensive collection of roofing, siding and window product lines.
Keep reading the ABC Supply blog for more information and resources to grow your business in 2017.