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What will 2021 hold for construction?

28 Jan 2021

2020 was an unforgiving year for the construction industry after the coronavirus swept across the world. Sites were forced to close to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and construction forecasts of project completions, site activity and more plummeted.

 

The second half of 2020 did see an increase in construction activity but not near the levels that were seen before the UK National Lockdown in March.

 

So what will 2021 bring for the construction industry?

 

 

Brexit - Putting it into action

 

It has been well-known for some time of the UK's skills shortage of construction workers. Currently, workers from the EU make up 8% of the UK's construction workforce.

 

Those from the EU living in the UK before the 31st December 2020 will be allowed to continue to do so until 30th June 2021. Anybody living in the UK from the EU at this time will need to apply for settled status before the 30th June to continue living in the UK.

 

People from the EU arriving after December will require a visa or sponsorship to secure UK employment.

 

The issue of importing/exporting goods/materials is also another potential issue for firms and businesses. With a new tariff in place, this will likely lead to an inflation of prices from suppliers in the EU that are supplying goods and materials to the United Kingdom. 

 

Around a quarter of products used in UK construction are imported from the EU, which is set to cause some firms major headaches.

 

More Sustainability Innovations

 

In the Absolute Zero report, it highlights some of the areas that the construction industry will be looking to be more efficient in during the next 30 years and beyond.

 

The report highlights the goals for the next 10 years: 'Reduced cement supply compensated by improved material efficiency, new steel replaced by recycled steel'.

 

If the UK wants to be realistic of achieving its net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the industry needs to tackle this issue as a whole.

 

From start-ups turning construction waste into bricks, to businesses engineering wood for optimum carbon storage, the world of sustainable building materials is growing at a rapid pace. (Source: UK Construction Media).

 

Coronavirus

 

It affected many sites throughout 2020 and we expect 2021 to be no different. But for how long depends on two factors: how fast the vaccines are rolled out and whether there are any new spikes in cases. 

 

On site safety has improved drastically from when construction sites opened again in summer and this will continue to be improved weekly until the vaccine has been fully rolled out.

 

Enhanced equipment and cleaning protocols are now in place, with only close contact allowed with colleagues if absolutely necessary. Smaller teams have been used for tasks, with staggered shifts now implemented to limit the number of people on site.

 

Social distancing will continue throughout 2021, with the necessary PPE still required on site, regular hand sanitization and for workers to keep their distance where possible.

 

The Rise of Modular Construction

 

Firstly, if you're not sure what Modular Construction is, it's a construction process that takes place off site. 

 

With the current state of the world with COVID-19, building off site makes perfect sense and this explains why more companies are looking at Modular Construction solutions.

 

Modular builds are already built in a way that promotes lower worker density. The manufacturing of these builds takes place in a large airy building, that allow lots of spaces for the workers and plenty of room for large parts and tools.

 

Modular buildings typically are ideally for those looking for quick short term solutions.

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