The task of real estate development is one of the most complex jobs a person can undertake, as it comprises many different subsets of skills and tasks that all need to be blended together to create a finished product. From site selection, and construction safety, to managing costs and design, managing crews, and obtaining permits, just to name a few. Perhaps the most critical of these factors is the overall ability to efficiently manage time and keep a project on track. When timelines do not go as scheduled, there's always a conflict.. and always a financial cost. Luckily there are ways to be able to solve these development issues. Several interesting new methodologies have begun to appear in recent years to help automate the process and alleviate some of the potential risks. Here are a few that we’re keeping our eye on:
Construction automation and pre-fabrication
In today's age, we have seen a vast improvement in manufacturing and now we can see this becoming more and more common in everyday construction. Off-site construction has been a strategy in which we have seen modernization in building construction. Pre-fabricating certain aspects can help expedite the process thanks to this form of construction automation. When incorporating prefabricated materials in your project you could be benefiting from an increase in safety and have fewer errors and saving an average of 10% on costs. Additionally, prefabricated materials help save 25% on schedule savings allowing a better idea for turnaround time.
Robotics in Construction
Another innovative form in which we’ve seen construction automation is with robotics involved in construction phases. We are now seeing robots capable of going to a site and using 3D imaging cameras to capture data, without having to physically be there. These four-legged robots from the company Boston Dynamics are capable of scanning sites with incredible accuracy to create 3D models of construction progress. Monitoring the progress of your real estate development project can help stick to timelines and avoid costly setbacks.
One successful case study of using these robots is energy giant National Grid to keep their employees safe. Some areas have to be checked close to where a person cannot access because of their electrical hazard. With “Spot” National Grid was able to check these areas and with Spots IR camera it was able to detect where equipment had hotter areas than others. Shortly, we may see more companies in similar industries use robotics for new efficiency and safety standards. This is a trend we expect to accelerate rapidly and quickly become mainstream.
Another method in which construction automation is shown is through 3D printing. We have seen how 3D printing has been taken into the real estate industry. There are companies now that are using 3D printing to create houses, home offices, ADUs, almost anything! One company we see doing this is Mighty Buildings as they are printing homes.
Some advantages of 3D printing are being able to have a Quick assembly & low maintenance, durability, high thermal resistance, accessibility to sites, compliance with California building codes, and sustainability. Compared to traditional home construction 3D printing eliminates the carbon footprint left by these traditional real estate development ways.
Mighty buildings have had several applications for these 3D-printed buildings in several locations throughout California. They printed a small 350ft studio in Livermore and another small rental property in San Diego of 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 700 sq. ft. Mighty Buildings plans to continue this trend and help start the world's first 3D printed community with 15 single-family homes and 15 ADUs. This would be the first 3D-printed community of zero net energy homes.
As seen previously with materials cost increasing, 3D printing offers a cost-effective way that is said to be the go-to standard in the future used by builders. It's about 15-20% more cost-effective to use 3D printing as opposed to traditional construction. As 3D printing will require a costly upfront cost it will be the best most effective way in the long run for a new era of construction and building modernization.
Now with the ability to be able to print buildings and monitor progress remotely, building modernization will continue to improve through various ways and techniques as more innovative approaches with technology are taken to construction.
Project & Time Management
Project approvals and permits can be a tedious process as it can take longer than expected. Having a project manager or virtual project manager can help keep everyone in the project accountable. Time is money, and when permits and other documents take longer it will cost money for the holdback. Now some software helps monitor this and helps keep a timeline for when different phases need to be completed. When dealing with these timelines it's best to overestimate time and budget to have room for anything that can come up. Virtual project management tools will help you track every aspect of your project from start to finish.
One great software for real estate development is Terrakan. Terrakan offers a virtual project management feature that allows real estate developers to manage their projects and invite everyone on their team to be able to see what needs to get done. VPM (virtual project manager) also has meetings features along with an overview of phases, meetings scheduled, and activities done by your team on each project giving you an eagle eye of all.
The Bottom Line
Real Estate Development can be a challenging activity if not done correctly and with the right key components. Technology is here to stay and we have seen it be involved in different aspects of our life. Thanks to this and innovation there are ways in which new automation in construction helps modernize the buildings and standards in real estate development. Innovation will continue to come and it is important to be able to use this to solve our real estate development issues.
One underlying issue we have seen lately in real estate is affordable housing. This has been an issue in the U.S, especially in hot markets such as California. Lacking affordable homes that people can get drives up the rent price. The increased price of materials does not help housing developments remain accessible to everyone. As these issues arise, so do solutions thanks to technology. The ultimate goal would be for these new advances in technology to lower housing costs by providing alternate ways that are cost and time-efficient.