Are Women Falling Behind in Construction Apprenticeship Positions?

A pervasive stereotype of the construction industry is that it’s a man’s field, where few women are employed and fewer still are welcomed. The unfortunate truth of the matter suggests that this is very much the case: women are significantly underrepresented in construction employment and apprenticeship.

apprenticeshipFalling Behind or Falling Out?

The level of female employment in the construction industry doesn’t specifically show that women are falling behind in employment and apprenticeship positions. Instead, the employment numbers are so low that “falling behind” would almost amount to “falling out.” The daily reality is that women are not making many advancements in the industry, and that female construction employment is not increasing substantially.

This is not the fault of women who are trying to enter the construction trades. In an article in the Washington Post from June 11, 2014, reporter Vickie Elmer noted that construction employment is 97 percent male, a number that has remained unchanged for more than three decades. Elmer based her article on a report from the National Women’s Law Center covering on women’s employment in construction.

When the report was published, women were employed in some 47 percent of all wage and salary jobs in the United States, Elmer noted. In sharp contrast, women accounted for only 2.6 percent of all construction jobs.

Barriers to Employment

The barriers to women’s employment in the industry are significant. On-the-job harassment is a major obstacle that women face in construction. Generalized disrespect or a belief that women are physically unable to handle the rigors of the work is another. Women also face deeply held ideas that the construction industry is simply not a place for women.

In response, many local and national trade organizations are working to provide more opportunities for women in construction, such as the nonprofit Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) and state-level programs such as Minnesota’s Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA).

Construction Monitor provides the most recent and most relevant information on the construction industry. Contact us today for more information on employment and apprenticeship in the construction industry and how your business can expand programs to include more skilled women in the building trades.

Are 3D Printed Houses the Next Big Thing?

The advances in 3D printing technology have given engineers, designers and hobbyists the ability to imagine and produce objects on a small scale. In several cities around the world, however, 3D printing in the construction industry is becoming more widely accepted as its benefits become clearer.

3d printing in the construction industryArchitectural 3D printing can allow the construction of multiple structures with unprecedented speed, efficiency and cost savings. For example, a Chinese company, WinSun, claimed that it was able to build 10 houses in 24 hours using a proprietary 3D printing system, according to a January 19, 2015 article by reporter Michelle Starr on the CNET website.

Even more remarkably, the houses built by WinSun were very inexpensive, costing only $5,000 each, according to information in an article on the Business Insider website.

Other major projects using 3D architectural printing have been noted in Germany, the Netherlands, Dubai and Singapore.

In the United States, 3D printing of houses and buildings has sparked interest among advocates of zero-energy housing and energy-efficient construction. As in other areas of the world, American builders, owners, and construction professionals are quickly seeing the benefits to using 3D printing of structures.

The technology involved in 3D architectural printing has quickly advanced to the point where entire structures can be built at once. In other contexts, such as the construction of large apartment buildings or high-rise office structures, 3D printing can be used to prefabricate individual rooms or modules that are then assembled as needed.

One of the most appealing benefits of 3D printing is its potential to dramatically reduce the costs of creating a building of almost any size. Materials costs can be slashed through more efficient use of construction materials and through the substantial reduction of waste. Labor costs are also reduced since 3D printing requires fewer workers.

Construction Monitor provides construction managers, building owners, and other professionals with construction leads along with news and data on the construction industry in the United States. Contact us today for more information on 3D printing in the construction industry and how it may affect your business in the years to come.

Maryland Seeks to Raise Safety Standards in Construction

Construction work is well-known as being a dangerous, potentially fatal occupation. In 2016, the state of Maryland is seeking to improve construction safety in an effort to benefit workers, managers, construction companies and building owners.

safety standards in constructionReforming Maryland’s Construction Industry

A number of safety-related bills are under consideration during Maryland’s 2016 legislative session. One of the more important is HB 977, introduced by Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore). This bill “would make serious reforms to Maryland’s construction industry,” noted reporters Emily A. Gardner and Michael Belcher, writing in the Washington Post.

Maryland’s process for screening potential companies for public works construction contracts currently requires assessment of past performance, bonding and legal proceedings, according to Gardner and Belcher. Safety records or existing worksite safety plans are not considered when evaluating a company for public construction contracts.

The Proposition for Safety

The reforms proposed by HB 977 would change the current procedures to include consideration of  a company’s safety status. For example, each company bidding on a public project would be required to have sufficient health and safety plans to ensure employee safety on the job.

In addition, each company submitting bids would have to include a sworn statement of commitment to safety on each project, reported Gardner and Belcher. The contractor’s safety plan would also have to be included with the bid. After evaluation of the plan the state would then make suggestions for additional health and safety measures to be implemented on the construction site.

This proposed legislation comes as a way to improve safety standards in construction in Maryland and elsewhere. In 2014, there were 16 construction-related fatalities in the state of Maryland, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS further reports that there were about 4,000 construction-related injuries in 2014, with some 2,400 of those injuries requiring time off, changes in duties during recovery, or transfers to entirely new positions.

Construction Monitor helps builders, owners and other professionals stay up-to-date on the most recent developments throughout the industry. Contact us today for more information on safety standards in construction and how evolving standards will affect your company and your employees.

Top Features Requested from Residential Construction Buyers

Providing your customers with what they want is the basis for any successful business. A recent survey conducted by a leading construction industry organization can help residential construction companies achieve that goal.

residential constructionThe survey’s results, contained in the report What Home Buyers Really Want, provide detailed information on the features residential construction customers want most in a new home. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducted the survey and published the report.

The nationwide survey was conducted in 2012. It includes responses from four categories of new and potential home buyers: Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and seniors. These categories represent four distinct generations of individuals with different needs in home ownership.

Respondents identified features that were considered essential in a new home, along with additional features that were desirable but not critical. They also provided responses on what features were least wanted in a new-home purchase.

Survey Says

Survey responses showed some potentially surprising results among the requirements of the four generations represented.

For example, 57 percent of respondents indicated that a laundry room was the most important feature of a new home. Millennials, Gen Xers, and seniors placed the laundry room at the top of their “most wanted” list. Baby Boomers, however, ranked a laundry room as third on the list, after Energy Star rated appliances and a whole-home Energy Star rating.

Energy efficiency ranked relatively high on the list for Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and seniors. In total, 36 percent of respondents considered Energy Star rated appliances the top priority in a new home. A total of 28 percent considered a whole-house Energy Star rating to be a must-have feature.

Surprisingly, Energy Star ratings and energy efficiency ranked low on the most-wanted list for Millennials.

Construction Monitor tracks and reports on the latest developments in the construction industry, such as housing starts, construction leads, best practices, and the latest trends. Contact us today for more information on preferences in residential construction and how your company can excel by providing residential customers with the features they want most.

Why Aren’t Millennials Choosing New Construction?

While you might be tempted to assume millennials‘ financial difficulties are what’s keeping them out of the housing market, you’d be missing half the story if you did. Personal preferences are also among the reasons some millennials may not choose to buy a new construction.

new constructionHow Millennials‘ Housing Preferences Differ

Burdensome student debt and poor job prospects have forced many millennials to delay home buying. When they are ready to buy, however, they’re faced with a lack of starter homes that fit their budgets.

Unlike previous generations, who typically started families in their early- to mid-twenties, millennials are holding off until their late twenties. In addition, more young people are opting to avoid marriage altogether. For many, this is a personal choice, not merely a consequence of financial insecurity. These singles have little incentive to move out of their tiny rented apartments and into family homes of their own.

Location preference is also a factor. Many millennials favor urban areas, preferring easy access to amenities and short commutes over the spacious homes and big backyards of the suburbs. When you consider the regulatory costs and other expenses of urban building, you can see why most builders construct a few large buildings rather than many small starter homes.

Your Options as a Construction Professional

Ultimately, the biggest roadblock keeping millennials out of the housing market may be the lack of affordable homes in the sizes and locations they prefer. Even those who are ready to buy may not find a new construction that meets their needs. Recently, only around 20 percent of newly built homes were entry-level properties, down from 30 percent before 2008.

The demand doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll profit by building these homes, though. In fact, current trends suggest you’re better off not doing so. Older millennials are now starting to make the traditional move to the suburbs, just at a later age than previous generations. In addition, rising rent prices in urban areas are likely to make suburban home ownership increasingly appealing.

For more information on the new construction home market, contact the construction leads experts at Construction Monitor today.

Is 2016 the Year for Solar Powered Homes?

Within just the last five years, demand for residential solar power has grown dramatically — and 2015 was the biggest year yet. Demand in 2016 is shaping up to be even stronger. If you haven’t taken steps to get your share of the solar-powered homes market, this year may be the time to get started.

solar-powered homesUnprecedented Growth

Thanks to increasing affordability and consumer awareness, residential photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) systems are rapidly gaining popularity. Research from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) predicts a 119 percent growth in total solar capacity in the US in 2016. That means some 16 gigawatts of solar power will be installed across the country. By 2020, that rate could triple to reach 100 gigawatts.

Consumer interest in green energy and cost savings aren’t the only factors driving this boom. The extension of the federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit in December 2015 is another major influence. The credit allows the buyer to claim 30 percent of a solar array’s cost until 2019. After that, the credit will taper off until it remains fixed at 10 percent from 2022 on. SEIA experts predict without the extension, total installed solar capacity would have dropped by 64 percent in 2017.

Maximizing Your Opportunities

Naturally, demand for solar power isn’t equal everywhere. You’ll find strong interest in Denver, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and all around California. On the other hand, in Texas, where no incentives are available, consumers give little thought to solar.

Overall, just 12 percent of prospective home buyers rank solar power as an important consideration, according to a National Association of Realtors survey from 2014.

That may not sound impressive, but demand for solar installations already exceeds current supply. To tap into the solar-powered homes market and win over buyers who are still undecided, buyer education is essential. Take time to outline your clients’ options, address concerns regarding reliability and aesthetics, and explain how to apply for the tax credit.

For more information on how you can profit in the solar-powered homes market, contact the construction leads experts at Construction Monitor today.

New Report: Construction Industry Employment on the Rise

After years of uncertainty following the 2008 economic crisis, the construction job market is finally making a recovery. This year, you’ll see an especially promising outlook for construction industry employment.

construction industry employmentMore Construction Firms Hiring

When the national economy took a dramatic turn for the worse in 2008, the construction job market shrank just as dramatically. The rate of construction job openings eventually hit a low of 0.3 percent in April 2009. The low prior to that was in 2005.

Since then, however, the construction industry has been gradually recovering. In 2015, the job openings rate rose to a high of 2.6 percent in March. This year, the situation for construction workers looks even better. January’s rate of 2.7 percent slightly surpassed last year’s high. That’s the highest it’s been since any time after the pre-crisis high of 3.5 percent.

Despite some peaks and valleys over the last few years, the construction industry employment rate is showing a positive trend. Since May of 2013, the rate of hiring has remained above the rate of separations due to quits, layoffs and other causes. You can expect to see new workers entering the industry at a slow but steady rate.

What the Recovery Means for You

While the industry’s recovery is overall good news for your construction firm, it also brings some challenges. Increased demand for highly skilled laborers can make it tough to find the specialists you need. While shortages like this are normal for recovery periods, this one seems more severe than expected.

Carpenters, drywall workers and tile installers, among others, are in short supply. Lack of workers can lead to delays and other scheduling issues. The workers who are available may expect wages higher than you’d planned to pay, potentially causing budgeting issues.

There are ways to avoid these issues, though. Providing training and coaching, hiring workers from other industries, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment, and boosting pay and benefits can help you bring in skilled laborers despite the shortage.

For more information on current construction industry employment trends, contact Construction Monitor.

Can Smart Vests Make Job Sites Safer?

While you might view technology in the construction industry primarily from an efficiency standpoint, some of today’s technology also offers major health and safety benefits. Among these is a smart vest developed to alert wearers to the signs of heat illness before their health suffers.

technology in the construction industryHeat Illness: An Increasingly Common Threat

Unusually high summer temperatures have become more frequent across the country and with them, the risk of heat-related illnesses also rises. This growing threat prompted the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to launch their annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers.

Construction workers are at high risk for heat illness due to the physical labor, protective clothing, and heat-generating equipment involved in the work. Providing your workers with plenty of water, shade and rest time doesn’t eliminate the risk. Workers don’t always realize when their discomfort has reached dangerous levels.

Heat stress causes excessive thirst, weakness, clumsiness, dizziness and nausea. A worker may write these symptoms off as normal fatigue and fail to seek help until they’ve suffered more serious health consequences. In severe cases, the worker may collapse before reaching help.

A new smart vest developed by Ruwini Edirisinghe, a researcher with RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, prevents this situation by alerting the wearer to danger. The vest is thought to be the first of this kind of technology in the construction industry.

How the Smart Vest Protects Your Workers

The smart vest looks like an ordinary yellow safety vest. Built into the fabric are sensors that collect data on the temperature of the working environment, as well as the worker’s body temperature and heart rate. The sensors send the data wirelessly in real time to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. If the app detects any abnormalities, it immediately alerts both the wearer and the site supervisor.

The early warning lets the worker stop and rest before suffering any adverse health effects. Because the supervisor is also alerted, there’s little chance the worker will simply ignore the warning.

To learn more about how technology in the construction industry can benefit you, visit the construction leads experts at Construction Monitor.