Source: Jeff Yoders/MetalMiner

The year in construction was dominated by labor and funding scarcity that held the recovery back until the final quarter of 2014 when home building and private construction finally took off.

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While materials prices stayed low for much of the year, the inability to finance projects and the ongoing logjam in Washington forced key projects such as highway funding and oil pipelines from seeing any path to construction.  It’s hard to believe that now high-flying construction was a laggard for much of the year, but that was the case right up until the beginning of summer.

Construction_Chart_December-2014_FNLMetalMiner’s Top 3 Construction Stories

1. Without Labor There is No Capital

As we celebrated Labor Day construction was still plagued by a lack of it. Skilled labor, at that. A study by the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the worker shortage is real, although more pronounced in some markets than others. 3D design, 4d scheduling and other technologies also helped mitigate the shortage.

2. Congress Fiddles While Highways Burn

Gridlock in Congress pushed the federal government’s Highway Trust Fund to the brink of insolvency in August. A deal was reached to extend funding of road and bridge projects on federal land through May, but that only sets the stage for another long-term funding battle in the new congress. The Keystone XL Pipeline also failed to win passage again, pushing the thousands of federal construction jobs it would require further back as well. Stay tuned for this one.

3.) 3D Revolution is a Revelation

Technology continued to change the face of American construction into a much younger one this year. Prescient, a Denver startup, has created a design solution from a library of building components that includes two dozen steel panels and one truss paired with an algorithm to optimize the design process. It’s just one case in point of how disrupted the design-bid-build world of construction is becoming. Technology giants such as Autodesk continued to invest heavily in building information modeling and 3D printing of construction materials.


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