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Construction Advisory_Q2 2020

Q1 2022 Summary: Unpredictable market conditions and labor shortage concerns continue to do their best to slow the industry. Creative solutions do exist to mitigate these challenges, some of which have been at one's fingertips for years, while others revolve around utilizing newly available technology that can help offset those pains and result in quality outcomes.


Procurement Concerns Linger. Labor Shortage Issues Loom.

Material procurement issues continue to impact construction projects, causing delays and frustration abroad. In the short term, it is essential that project teams proactively track and manage procurement to avoid issues and adapt to changing market conditions. The lack of material availability, however, is only part of the overarching dilemma facing infrastructural progress. Labor shortages—caused by retirees, stagnant labor-force participation, tighter immigration regulations, education mismatches, and lingering pandemic concerns—will continue to impact the construction industry long after the short-term supply chain issues are resolved. Consider systems and solutions, like those listed below, that factor in the availability and the capability of the labor force:

  • Unitized curtainwall systems, the panels of which are built in a shop setting, reduce the amount of labor, skill, and time needed to install the envelope.
  • ProPress pipe fittings, in lieu soldered pipe fittings, are simpler for workers to install, reducing the need for skilled craft workers.
  • Flexible sprinkler heads, rather than hard piping the sprinkler heads, are easier to set in the ceiling grid, eliminating the skill, time, and labor required for hard piping.

COVID-induced labor shortages affected the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, School of Medicine Institute of Neurosciences project, requiring coordination with an MEP contractor whose Owner helped man the project for 10 months to satisfy the journeyman-to-apprentice ratio.

Drone Utilization for a Better Build

With rapid advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), operating a drone has never been cheaper or easier. As a result, many construction managers are using the technology to capitalize on the various benefits they provide, including efficient surveying and mapping a job site, capturing pictures and videos to communicate a project’s progress to stakeholders, and inspecting hard-to-reach places. Your contractor has the potential to provide cost or schedule savings through their drone program.

You may want to ask your contractor questions, like: “Have you initiated a drone program and in what capacities are you using the technology? What drone equipment is available and how often will it be used on the project? What qualifications and certifications do your pilots have? How does your firm use drones to keep a project team and stakeholders connected and informed throughout the project? Are you using drones to adapt to pandemic-induced changes?”

Click here to learn more about maximizing drone technology on construction projects.


Drone-captured in-progress photo of the University of Houston-Downtown, Student Wellness and Success Center project.


A Thorough Constructability Review Yields Better Results

Technological innovation drives progress in the construction industry. A prime example is the software Bluebeam Revu which, when utilized properly, provides the potential to improve upon the traditional constructability review process. A thorough and efficient constructability review is a critical component of an effective preconstruction effort. Bluebeam Studio, a cloud-based component of Bluebeam Revu, facilitates project team collaboration through hosted studio sessions where attendees can edit, markup, manage, and collaborate on the same construction plan documents in real time. The software replicates the outdated paper-based process, but with markup, measuring, and comment tools. The best outcomes occur when the entire project team—including the Owner, design team, and construction manager—are collectively engaged in the constructability review process. This collaborative approach is beneficial as it allows the project team to resolve issues early before finding them in the field, reducing revisions during construction. As a result, Owners can allocate the project budget in ways that best serve the overall goals for the project, producing higher quality documents, superior outcomes, and contributing towards facilitating a successful project.


Constructability review executed through Bluebeam Revu for the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, South Tower Expansion project.


About Vaughn Construction

Vaughn Construction is a Texas-based construction company that specializes in new construction, renovations and additions to civic, healthcare, education and research facilities. The privately-held company has offices in Austin, Bryan/College Station, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio, and the Texas Medical Center (Houston).