19 Jan

Building hype: 2018’s biggest construction trends

Dane Latham

With rapid advancement of technology across all sectors, an increased focus on sustainability and changes to the contractor hiring landscape, 2018 is set to be a year filled with opportunities and innovations.

We’ve rounded up 6 exciting building and construction trends to keep an eye on this year – and what they mean for you.

1. Sustainable design will become a fundamental element of construction.

Sustainability can no longer be an afterthought. It’s now a fundamental part of the building design and construction process. Global warming and extreme weather events are causing the industry to rethink design and construction elements – particularly in light of CSIRO’s warning that replacing buildings exposed to extreme weather could cost over $1 trillion in Australia by the end of the century.

From the planning stages, project managers need to start considering the effects of global warming – and subsequently design buildings for extreme weather. Some examples are buildings with water-resistant materials and a flood-proof structure or those with heat-resistant exteriors and insulation.

2. New material innovations and breakthroughs

Every year in construction brings about new materials and processes. 2017 was an exciting year with innovations in materials that allow for stronger, more flexible, and more sustainable designs. Here are our ones to watch for 2018. 


Graphene isn’t a new material, but it’s certainly one that builders haven’t used regularly, largely due to difficulties in production. However, a university in the US recently developed a new production method called chemical vapour deposition, which makes the material more readily available and less expensive. 

Green-mix and natural concrete.

In 2017 a team in Malaysia mixed concrete with recycled materials to create an environmentally friendly concrete substitute which has the same properties as standard concrete. 

Meanwhile, a team at MIT have proposed a concrete without cement – instead, using organic materials like bones and shells to hold concrete together. With the rising importance of sustainable design, we’re hoping these alternative concrete solutions catch on in 2018.

Hardwood cross-laminated timber.

Although the construction industry currently uses mass timber, this may be set to change in coming years. London-based architects, a global engineering firm, and the American Hardwood Export Council have teamed up to create a new timber material which is stronger than concrete by weight, and comes from feedstock that is rapidly renewable.

3. Digitisation of project management.

Every industry has been affected by tech innovation, and the building and construction industry is no exception. Following the proliferation of BIM in project management in 2017, 2018 is the perfect time for contractors and project managers to update their project management templates and trial new project management software.


Cloud software can now integrate your most commonly used programs in one place (including Google Drive, Gmail, Outlook, and Xero). Data analytics and dashboards help project managers to quickly understand incoming and outgoing costs, the current status of projects, and where processes could be improved. 

For more on the features you should be keeping an eye out for, take a look at our recent article on innovative construction project management software.

4. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are on the rise.

New construction technology in 2018 will allow for new ways of working, and VR and AR are two technologies that will lead the charge. More affordable options for VR, such as Google Cardboard, are becoming available, whilst mobile technology is increasingly sophisticated and fast. This means project managers and contractors can increasingly tour construction sites and train teams without having to be physically onsite.

5. Changes in contractor legislation and government expenditure.

In 2017 the government changed regulations for 457 temporary working visas, which impacts the role of overseas contractors in the building and construction industry.

As the effects of these changes continue, project managers will have plan longer lead times for processing any workers who do come in on 457 visas, as the average processing time is anywhere between 2-6 months. On top of this, there may be more hidden costs involved in training overseas workers to meet OH&S standards.

However, changes to government expenditure mean there’s an increasing amount of opportunity in the New Year. The Australian government committed over $70 billion to Australian infrastructure in the 2017-2018 budget, including new developments for airports and rail links, which open up new job opportunities for project managers and contractors.

6. Accessible design will become even more important.

Along with sustainability, accessibility is an increasingly important topic in the building and construction industry – and one that will only become more crucial in 2018.

Businesses are focussed on ensuring those with visual or mobility impairments can move around public spaces and buildings in a safe and independent way. A big part of this involves the installation of safety products like non-slip stair treads and tactile indicator studs, which prevent injury and warn visually impaired people when they are approaching hazards.

In 2018 contractors and project managers must be aware of where tactile indicator studs need to be installed, and ensure their compliant installation. This will work to prevent injury, as well as minimise legal and financial liability.

Next Steps

In 2018 the industry-wide trend of late payments will continue to be common practice. This is particularly true for contractors, who are used to receiving late or non-existent payments after many hours labouring on hot, rough worksites.

According to the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002 you can serve a payment claim on your payer to fast-track the payment process or request payments that were never made. Use our free, printable Payment Claim Template to get started. Get your copy by clicking the image below. 

Payment Claim Template

Dane Latham

Dane is Latham’s Administration Manager. For more than 25 years he’s been looking after all things finance, HR, marketing and IT here. As an avid supporter of Australian made and owned products, Dane is most proud of the role that Latham's premium grade products play in iconic Australian buildings like the Sydney Opera House and the MCG, as well as international structures such as the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia.

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