Seeking Construction Certainty in Uncertain Times: Four Trends Emerged

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Seeking Construction Certainty in Uncertain Times: Four Trends Emerged

Oct 8, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a ripple of devastating effects through our community and the world. As one of the few local industries to remain open as an essential business at the height of the pandemic, the construction industry has had to adapt. Quickly. And while it has been anything but normal, construction in the DMV continues to push forward with new solutions and ways of working as disruptions and challenges arise.

In fact, this has been the perfect opportunity for 20+ of the local general contractors to come together to share best practices and ideas on how to best safely navigate this pandemic. Because there are no winners or losers here, only professionals helping one another.

While we all work to navigate different work environments and implement new business practices these past six months, there have been some extreme expectations of what was, or will be, to come. Uncertainty is natural at a time like this, but take ease in these four reassuring trends in construction right now.

1. Construction costs have trended downward, somewhat.

While project requirements may differ today from the start of 2020, projects throughout the region continue to move forward to meet tenant, resident and market needs. In fact, specialty trade subcontractor participation and coverage to buy work is as good as it has ever been. This coverage helps drive competition and gives confidence in the numbers.

At DAVIS, we’re keeping clients informed of the current market trends and advise where we believe pricing is heading. At the start of the pandemic, many industry leaders expected significant cost reductions immediately, however the numbers held pretty consistent through the first half of the year and pricing did not respond as drastically as expected. But, as we reach the end of Q3, construction cost values in the DMV have come down, currently ranging from 4-10% depending on a number of variables.

2. Quick decision-making and calculated logistics planning can help mitigate material shortages and delays.

Encountering logistical problems to solve in the world of construction is nothing new. But from mandated shutdowns, to reduced staffing levels, and transportation limitations to addressing positive cases in the workplace, it’s naive to believe the construction supply chain hasn’t been affected. Typically, we could look to another part of the country, or world, to identify and source commodities, materials and/or equipment. But amid a global pandemic, that logic is no longer reliable.

To lessen the effects on projects, we’ve taken the approach, and advise others in the industry to proactively supplement subcontractor and vendor efforts to source materials and equipment, as well as track delayed production and delivery timelines. Furthermore, it’s best to make accommodations to procure, receive and store key long-lead materials that can deliver early. On a project-by-project basis and in partnership with the work of owners, design teams, specialty trade subcontractors and vendors, contractors are able to identify different sourcing paths, re-sequence work in the field, and develop new strategies to be most efficient when products are received.

3. Remote work is effective, where appropriate.

While many operational duties and trades must be performed in-person and on-site, there is plenty of behind-the-scenes work on construction projects. By minimizing density and maximizing physical distancing teams will have the authority and flexibility to determine what works best for their individual project or department within certain parameters. With dynamic technology and collaboration tools, this approach enables teams to efficiently achieve the density and distancing goals without sacrificing safety or quality of work.

4. Safety remains paramount.

Safety should be the priority on every construction site, with or without a pandemic. COVID-19 precautions, such as those at DAVIS, have only strengthened traditional safety protocol through site-specific planning focused on density reduction, personnel and material access and egress logistics, trade and activity specific sequencing and scheduling, staggered start times and workdays, amended site logistics and protocols, and strict social distancing.

To expect that business would continue as normal with no impact during a pandemic is unrealistic. But we advise other industry leaders to work quickly to identify the obstacles, conduct research, and collaborate with partners to develop informed, realistic plans that mitigate risk where we can. And while further changes are inevitable, those will unfold through real project experience paired with the evolution of the virus.


Interested in gaining more clarity in these uncertain times? Reach out to our in-house expert, Dominic Argentieri!