Seven construction industry trends emerging during coronavirus

Now that we are many weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, there are some clear trends for the future of the construction industry. Here are some of them:

1 Modular Construction

This was on the rise before COVID-19. The virus has brought it into focus even more. It is considered easier to socially distance when constructing and installing modular buildings rather than working on a traditional building site.

2 Distribution Centres

Our shopping habits have changed with remarkable speed. Many of us have turned to internet shopping and a lot of us have decided we quite like it.  The boom in internet shopping seems to be here to stay. If so, then more distribution centres will be required. The production lines within such distribution centres are often constructed using the MF/1 form of contract. Click here for the series of blogs on MF/1.

3 Health and Safety

This is a big change for the way construction sites work. The Construction Leadership Council has issued Site Operating Procedures – the latest is version 4. Click here for more information on our blog on what these procedures involve.

4 Delay

There have been (and continue to be) delays to construction sites as a result of COVID-19.  These are two-fold – actual site closures during the peak of the lockdown and the potential disruption caused by social distancing now that sites have opened up. Responsibility for the time and cost of delay is likely to be an area of dispute between parties.

5 Smash and grab adjudications

These have of course been around for a while but the recent case of J &B Hopkins Ltd v Trant Engineering Ltd [2020] EWHC 1305 is of interest - not so much because of the decision but because of the facts. Here there had been a number of interim applications, in relation to one of these, interim application 26, Trant failed to serve both a payment and a pay less notice. There were subsequent applications where the relevant notices were served. Hopkins however brought an adjudication based on the failure to serve notices in relation to application 26. They were successful and the court granted judgement and refused a stay of execution. Remember if you are the paying party to always serve the relevant notices otherwise you face a similar situation to Trant.  With money tight it is likely that we will see more of these sorts of adjudications.

6 Insolvency and termination

The bill going through Parliament at the moment is intended to stop a party terminating for insolvency (subject to certain exceptions such as the administrator of a company in administration agreeing to the termination or the court granting permission).  This is a major change which will affect the construction industry and it is intended to be permanent.

7 Cladding

This is not related to COVID-19, but it is a trend. The Government is intent on ensuring that high rise residential buildings are safe. Remedial works were required to be continued during lockdown. Also during lockdown, on the 2 April, it published its response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation which included confirmation that there would be a new national building safety regulator and that Approved Document B would be amended so that sprinkler systems and way finding signage would have to be installed in all new high rise residential blocks over 11 metres high. This follows the banning of the use of combustible cladding on residential buildings over 18 metres high which contain flats  (save for hostels, hotels and boarding houses) and the subsequent launching of a consultation as to the lowering of this height to buildings over 11 metres high and to extending the ban to cover hostels, hotels and boarding houses. We can expect to hear more about safety measures on high rise buildings in the future.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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