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Company News Industry Insight Tips & Advice Ultimate Guide

The North American Construction Market and the Future of Construction Software

Very few people could have guessed that the past few years would be so interesting. But, despite the tumult, supply shortages, unrest, and other challenges, construction is still one of the fastest-growing industries in North America. All across the U.S. and Canada, construction crews continued to build while other industries were at a standstill—albeit, not all at the same pace.

But what does the future hold for the construction industry? And what does it mean for the future of construction software? Let’s find out!

Where the Industry is Heading

As a whole, the construction industry is heading toward continued growth over the next few years. Government spending on infrastructure projects is helpful, but the majority of the growth will come from the effort of the residential industry. In fact, residential construction deserves most of the credit for the industry’s bounce back after the 2020 recession. 

But how much will it grow moving forward?

With so many entities performing market research on the construction industry, the estimates regarding growth vary. However, most researchers believe that the industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 4.8 and 8.4 percent over the next few years. While that might seem to be a drop in growth rate from 2021’s numbers (roughly 12 percent), it’s still within a healthy range for most industries. 

Trends to Watch

One of the best ways to understand the direction of the construction industry is to look at current trends. While they may be temporary, they can steer the direction of the ship.

Residential is paving the way. While the commercial and municipal construction sectors slowed (crawled, really), residential construction experienced a boon. Despite the rising costs of materials and lumber, new home construction and renovation made up the majority of the industry’s growth.

Some construction firms saw the writing on the wall and pivoted from commercial and residential outfits to residential-only. Many downsized their workforces but were able to keep the doors open by building new homes or remodeling existing homes for folks fleeing big cities.

Commercial and industrial projects are likely to continue crawling moving forward for the next year or so, leaving the emphasis on the residential sector. However, both of these industries are expected to bounce back shortly after. 

Labor is still an issue. Finding skilled workers has always been a challenge for the construction industry, and it’s an issue that isn’t likely to go away any time soon. But, it’s not just the ironworkers, carpenters, and electricians that are hard to find. It’s also a lot of the clerical and office staff. In fact, the number encompassing all positions lost during the pandemic is just shy of one million jobs.

Many folks chose to stay home from work for a few years, while others transitioned into other industries that were more work-from-home friendly. Whatever the case may be, there just aren’t enough experienced, qualified workers to keep up with the industry’s demand. 

Companies are doubling down on technology. Despite the industry’s resistance to technology and the changes it may bring forth, companies are investing heavily in connected construction. The hope is that by investing in technology, these companies will be in a better position to answer the call for smart cities, climate change programs, and Urban Air Mobility initiatives.

Along with positioning themselves to take advantage of big-spending bills and government programs, the companies within the industry can now realize improved efficiency, accuracy, reduced costs, and larger margins. 

Supply chains are far from fixed. Supply chain issues plagued all industries in recent years, but they’ve really held the construction industry back. Between not being able to get certain materials or basic materials doubling (or tripling) in price, materials availability and affordability have been an issue.

This issue is likely to play out over the next few years before it comes back to the center. Some materials are still difficult to find, and then getting them to the job site can be even more of a challenge. Until other countries open completely and everyone heads back to work, this is an issue that won’t go away any time soon. 

How The Construction Software Industry Will Respond

While there may be good things on the horizon for the construction industry as a whole, the construction software industry must adjust accordingly. In general, this means developing new technologies or adapting older tech to modern trends. 

1. Adapting to Residential Contractors

Most construction software programs are designed for large contractors tackling commercial and industrial projects. However, with the current trend showing residential work to be the shining star of the construction industry, software companies will have to adapt.

Adapting to residential construction won’t be difficult for most software developers. However, a greater focus on making estimates easier to understand, making forms easier to customize, and simplified invoices will help those working in the residential industry.

2. Better User Experience

With such a shortage of skilled employees to choose from, growing construction companies will often rely on less-experienced personnel to see the job through. In fact, some employees may go right from the slab to the office, and they need to adapt quickly.

In this case, making construction software easier to use will help those lacking experience adapt to the new system. Also, these systems will help to reduce the number of mistakes or errors caused by inexperience—something the industry may come to rely on in the coming years.

3. Cloud-Based Access

With so many folks working from home these days, cloud-based storage systems and real-time reports will become critical. While the actual building happens on-site, plenty of the clerical and administrative roles can transition to a remote commute. And, companies will have to start offering these WFH positions if they want to attract the right people.

For these roles to work, however, they need reliable access to the company’s construction software program as well as the drawings and files that it may contain. Software companies will have to partner with strong cloud service providers to pull that off.

3. Improved Flexibility

As supply chains continue to work themselves out, modern construction software needs to be nimble and flexible. It should allow for easy changes it can also track through the system, adjusting the appropriate values automatically as it goes. There’s no way to predict how often this could happen during the lifetime of a job, and streamlined automation will help.

Construction software should allow for the easy production of change orders should a particular material become unavailable. These change orders should operate on customizable workflows so everyone who needs to see it and approve it can do so. With these features requiring minimal input from the contractor, there will be fewer errors and less downtime, helping to keep projects on track. 

Growth on the Horizon

Between the construction industry and the software that supports it, the future looks like growth. While certain sectors might struggle to keep up, the overall industry is poised to grow over the next few years, and savvy construction software creators will adapt their programs to go along for the ride, including yours truly, Premier Construction Software! Amidst the market shifts, one thing Premier and the team behind the brand can do is adapt. We will ensure your business can benefit from a system like ours.

See how we can help you structure your business for success, schedule a demo today.

Author Biography:

Tom Scalisi has over 15 years of experience working in the trades. Since moving to full-time freelance writing, he has developed a passion for helping construction companies grow. He enjoys teaching contractors how technology can streamline their businesses and educating them about their rights during payment disputes. 

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Features Industry Insight Ultimate Guide

The 101 on Lien Waivers in Construction

When a contractor agrees to take on a project for a set price, they expect to get paid for their work. If a project owner decides not to pay them, the contractor then has the right to file a lien against the property. While this does initially put the contractor in the driver’s seat, another document exists to protect project owners as well: lien waivers. 

So, what is a Lien Waiver?

A lien waiver is a document that a contractor or subcontractor can sign to give up their lien rights in exchange for payment. This form is exchanged during the payment process, and it states that for a certain amount of money, the contractor will agree not to file a lien against the owner’s property.

This is a powerful document.

If a contractor has lien rights, they can file a lien against the property if they don’t receive money for their work. If the owner still doesn’t make good on the payment, the contractor can act on the lien and force the sale of the property. Once the property sells, the contractor is able to take their cut from the proceeds.

This creates a lot of risk for the project owner. Although most owners want to pay their contractors to keep them happy, they also prefer a bit of reassurance that the contractor won’t file a lien against the property. That’s exactly what a lien waiver does. 

Two Types of Lien Waivers

There are two types of lien waivers: unconditional and conditional. If a contractor signs either one, they’ll give up their rights to a lien. However, exactly when they give up their rights changes based on the waiver type.

  • Unconditional waivers essentially state that the moment the contractor signs them, they give up their rights to a lien. These are excellent documents for project owners because they essentially wash their hands of risk. For contractors, they might be signing this document before receiving any money, meaning they’re shouldering all the risk. If the project owner doesn’t pay, there’s no recourse other than a long, drawn-out lawsuit process.
  • Conditional waivers are a bit more diplomatic. A signed conditional waiver states that a contractor will give up their right to a mechanics lien when they get paid for their work. These forms are essentially like receipts for the project owner and create very little risk for the contractor. If the contractor doesn’t get paid, they still retain their right to a lien. 

Nailing the Lien Waiver Process

These documents carry a lot of weight, so it’s important that they’re handled correctly. Project owners need to ensure they’re receiving lien waivers from the general contractor before or at the time they pay them. However, it’s also important that the GC get lien waivers from their subs as well.

One missed lien waiver throughout the payment chain can lead to a lien.

So how should a project owner or general contractor handle the lien waiver process? The best route is through automation. 

Automated Lien Waiver Generation

Tracking down lien waivers from every contractor, sub, trade, or material supplier can be a nightmare. And, it can drag the payment process out far longer than necessary. Instead of manually handling the process, lean on automatic waiver generation.

Premier Construction Software can be programmed to generate lien waivers automatically. Contractors and subs can generate them and send them when submitting invoices, or the system can require them before issuing payment. The system’s customizable workflows can send these documents to everyone who needs them, including internal and external personnel.

This automated process can provide a bit of relief for the GC or project owner. As the system automatically generates proper lien waivers (unconditional, conditional, or even final payment), they’ll know that money won’t switch bank accounts until the document is signed. This lessens the risk for these parties tremendously. 

Electronic Signatures

When a contractor or sub receives or submits a paper lien waiver, they have to sign in and include it in their payment application paperwork. This creates yet more risk, as the document could easily get misplaced, leading the project owner’s accounting staff to believe the contractor never submitted the document, so they withhold payment until they receive it. Since the contractor isn’t getting paid, they might consider filing a lien. 

It’s a nasty cycle caused by one misplaced document. 

Since Premier Construction Software allows for electronic signatures, the risk of losing a lien waiver is almost non-existent. Contractors are able to access documents on any mobile-enabled device. Once they review the form, they can sign it and submit it to the project owner. This happens in real-time.

Storage and Review

Keeping all those lien waivers organized in hard copy form can be challenging for office staff, and it allows more room for human error than is necessary. Poor file management can mean time wasted looking for a specific lien waiver, or not knowing who even submitted them.

Premier Construction Software puts secure storage at the users’ fingertips. Premier automatically stores signed agreements on its cloud, and then sends the contractor or sub a copy of the signed document. The project owner knows who’s submitted the doc, and the contractor knows their lien waiver is on file. 

And, once the waiver is in the system, it enters an approval inbox. Users can access this inbox to view approved documents (such as signed waivers) and drill down for important information like payment amount, dates, and who signed the document. 

Customizable and Repeatable Lien Waivers

Depending on the owner, GC, and sub, lien waivers can look very different between each party. The owner’s customary lien waiver they send with payment could look different than the version coming from the GC or subcontractor. While they all serve the same purpose, standardizing them into one document can streamline the payment process.

Premier Construction Software offers users the ability to configure and customize their forms. This gives the owner and GC a standardized form they can use across the payment tiers. Subs submitting invoices will be filling out the same document the project owner sends to the general contractor. This consistent language not only makes the form easier to produce and send but also ensures everyone understands the form, allowing better transparency and communication. 

Lien Waivers Require Careful Handling, and Premier Can Do It

Lien waivers are vital to both project owners trying to keep their properties clear from litigation and contractors and subs looking to speed up their payment. Both entities can benefit from a system like Premier, like automatic generation, real-time electronic approval, and cloud-based storage takes the guesswork out of lien waiver management.

To see how Premier Software can help you structure your business for success, schedule a demo today.

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Industry Insight Tips & Advice Trends & Technology Ultimate Guide

Why is Software Support Critical to the Success of Your Business?

We know that changing financial and project management software can be stressful. The transition is often bumpy and can take several weeks or months to implement. With Premier Software you get the help and support you need throughout the software implementation and use process.

We help ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment and that your team is working at its peak efficiency. Here’s how Premier Construction Software provides you with the support you need to improve your business success.

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Industry Insight Tips & Advice Ultimate Guide

Construction Software: Why Startup Businesses Should Invest

As a startup, one of the most important investments you will make is selecting the right type of software for your construction business. Instead of purchasing multiple systems that only offer partial solutions, it pays to invest in an all-in-one platform that will grow with your company. In this article, we’ll look at what kind of software construction companies need, which software is best for construction companies, and why you should invest in construction software. 

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Industry Insight Tips & Advice Ultimate Guide

Economics of Construction, Post-Covid

As more and more states relax pandemic restrictions, the construction industry is beginning to return to normal. All be it a new normal, as contractors continue to struggle with material shortages, higher prices, and a labor shortage. Still, most economists predict that construction will continue to rise throughout 2022.

Looking at 2022, I would say I’m nervously optimistic. Nonresidential construction, by and large, seems to have passed the low point and is on an upswing.

– Ken Simonson, Chief Economist for the Associated General Contractors of America

With the passing of the infrastructure bill, many large federal projects are expected to go online in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2022, giving a much-needed boost to the industry.

“I think that 2022 is going to be very busy for you all,” says Anirban Basu, chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors and CEO of consulting firm Sage Policy Group. “Think very long and hard before you enter into contractual obligations. Make sure you build enough margin and contingency.”

Basu predicts a rise in state and local spending on construction going forward, including school construction. Contractors will need to ramp up their operations to handle the influx of available work.

“I think, to be successful, it’s going to help to be bigger,” he says. “Significant technologies are more expensive, and recruiting costs are significant, and training costs are significant. It’s nice to have a larger line of credit and more bonding capacity to go after some of these large-scale projects that are coming down the pipe, whether in infrastructure or other segments.”

The continued increase in volume can be tied to the effects of the pandemic both on the industry and the general population. “The impact of COVID has been far from equal,” notes Global Construction Perspectives director Mike Betts. “In most countries it’s been negative but in some, it’s been positive as working from home has encouraged people to invest more in their homes.”

This investment has led to a steady recovery for the industry over the past year and a half.

Continuing challenges

However, we aren’t out of the woods yet. Many contractors are struggling with the residual effects of COVID shutdowns that occurred two years ago. Workers and building materials are hard to come by and are more expensive than they were before the pandemic began.

Labor shortage

The construction industry continues to struggle with bringing new talent to the industry. The perception of construction jobs as dirty and physically demanding may be a part of the problem, along with the societal view that students graduating from high school should all want to seek a college education. The fact is that college isn’t for everyone, and construction careers can be performed by anyone given enough training. Most journeymen tradespeople get paid more than their college-educated friends and don’t have the tuition debt to show for it.

In the industry, there were 345,000 unfilled jobs at the end of November 2021. That was actually down from October when openings hit an all-time high of 455,000, but up from 261,000 a year earlier, a 32% jump, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One of the answers some companies are pursuing is the adoption of technology. Today’s young workers grew up with technology, so they are more comfortable with it than past generations. Contractors are recruiting young workers to help with scheduling, estimating, and project management, which most companies use software for. Upcoming tech for virtual reality, drones, robotics, and building information modeling (BIM) is driving the surge of young people to the industry.

Supply chain issues

A combination of production and shipping delays and rising material prices has created a problem for contractors on current projects. Production stoppages due to the pandemic and trucking and shipping disputes have caused project delays and price increases.

“The good news is we are starting to see factory output come back to close to where it was prior to the pandemic,” Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Data & Analytics said. “That should help the supply side, and if we start to see some improvements with the log jams at ports, perhaps by the backside of 2022, we might see some reprieve from these higher prices.”

“I’ve gotten more optimistic about material prices,” Simonson said. He doesn’t expect them to return to pre-pandemic levels but anticipates more up and down volatility, which is better than the upward swing many material prices took through 2021.

Some contractors dealt with the material shortage by stockpiling materials they used on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this is exacerbating the current supply crunch.

Some of it is a shortage, and some of it is shipping, but some of it is still a little bit of fear, where people are buying products to try to protect themselves. That’s driving up the demand, which does not help the overall industry.

– Deron Brown, President & COO of U.S. Operations for Edmonton, Canada-based PCL Construction  

Experts don’t see supply chain issues being resolved completely until sometime in 2023. Contractors need to keep this in mind and be proactive with purchasing to ensure project timelines are met.

Positive outlook

Overall, it appears that the construction industry is set to continue its rebound. Contractors are learning to deal with shortages in labor and materials, and these will continue to be problematic. Adopting technology, like project management software, can attract younger workers and make systems more efficient, reducing company overhead costs.

For more on how Premier Construction Software can help your company, request a free demonstration.

Author Biography:

Dawn Killough is a construction writer with over 20 years of experience with construction payments, from the perspectives of subcontractors and general contractors. Dawn has held roles such as a staff accountant, green building advisor, project assistant, and contract administrator.  Her work for general contractors, design firms, and subcontractors has even led to the publication of blogs on several construction tech websites and her book, Green Building Design 101.