Nobody has ever accurately predicted what the future of Off-Site construction will be but some things will continue to concern our industry in 2021.
Just a short time ago we were all attending COVID-19 required video conferences and seminars where ‘experts’ told us to prepare for another recession. Aren’t we glad their predictions were wrong!
Nobody can predict the future but there are some areas of the construction process that will continue to give us problems in 2021.
Skilled labor positions at the factory level will continue to go unfilled as Baby Boomers retire in even bigger numbers. To date there are few if any training programs for new production workers and training for line supervisors is usually absent altogether.
Another problem area is the growing non-payment for projects by developers. COVID-19 halted some projects from being funded as that money, especially in the case of local government funded projects, was diverted to more pressing medical projects.
Some modular and off-site factories have been hit with millions of dollars of unpaid invoices as developers ran out of money. 2020 was a bad year for some factories with 2021 still finding investor and developer money tight in some areas.
The almost continually rising cost of basic building material may not be as profound as 2020 but with record numbers of construction starts from basic homes to large commercial projects, the law of supply and demand will once again rear its ugly head. Hopefully not as much as it has over the past year.
Another situation facing many modular factories is having too much to build which forces many factories to prioritize what goes on the production line. Do it right and the production line runs smoothly and profitably.
If production is slowed because of material shortages or having a major project delayed for a month, then the scramble to get something to put through the production line can be like trying to finish a 1,000 piece puzzle in a day. Simply devastating if not done right.
COVID-19 safety concerns will continue through 2020 into 2021. Added costs for health and safety procedures, classroom work for all employees and possibly even the cost of newly developed safety features that could be required to be added to all new construction are sure to be on everyone’s radar.
As an industry, construction has historically met situations like this head on and will face 2021 armed with renewed vigor and lessons learned from 2020.
2021 looks like another great year. Let’s hope at least some of the problem areas mentioned here fail to materialize.
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