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CONTRACTORS’ VIEWS ON PHYSICAL VS VIRTUAL TRADE FAIRS

The start of a new year is an excellent moment for contractors to plan what trade fairs they will visit in the months to come. At the start of 2022, however, as Omicron still surges the world, it seems hard to make any solid plans. For two years now, the pandemic has been plaguing traditional physical trade fairs, often denying manufacturers of construction materials the opportunity to showcase their solutions.

During the hardest lockdowns, virtual trade shows were set up as an alternative. The construction sector is a rather traditional one, however, and contractors usually prove that claim, but given the pressure of the pandemic, the choice for the traditional is not always present.

All the more reason to gather contractors’ opinions on physical versus virtual trade fairs during and after the pandemic. That is what we asked 950 European contractors for the Q4 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor monitor, which focuses on media orientation.

THE INFLUENCE OF CONTRACTORS IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS VARIES BASED ON THE TYPE OF CONTRACT

When thinking about building materials and product and brand specification, we generally focus on architects and/ or engineers. It is not usual that architects and engineers work for a main contractor. However, the increasing number of design-build contracts and developer contractors, the type of contractors who are appointed to develop and carry out the full project cycle, enables a more integrated value chain. This becomes apparent in the H2 2020 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Contractor Monitor.

THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY BENEFITS FROM BROADER ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Turnover in the construction sector in January 2021 is higher than the turnover in January 2020. This is shown by the January edition of the BouwMonitor, a monthly survey of 1000 parties in construction. The theme for this edition is safety. The economic recovery leads to fewer cancelled projects by principals, including owners of offices. This is reflected in the value of the real estate portfolio: 44% of investors say their portfolio has increased in value. The value of offices and retail is less negative than in previous months. The positive turnover and order book development among investors, consultants and architects also indicates a marked increase in projects.

THE ROLE OF MAIN CONTRACTORS IS BECOMING MORE IMPORTANT

The construction DMU is rather complex compared to other sectors due to a project team of different stakeholders involved in different phases and steps of a project cycle. With the changing dynamics of the construction sector, such as an increasing amount of contractor-led design & build projects, the role of contractors is becoming even more important. This is quite apparent in the H2 2020 results of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Contractor Monitor, which focuses on the role of contractors in the construction decision-making unit in eight European countries.

BIM AWARENESS BOOMING AMONG ELECTRICAL INSTALLERS

In the trend of digitalisation in the construction sector to make construction processes more efficient, Building Information Modelling (BIM) takes an important role. We have seen the rise in BIM awareness and usage among architects and general contractors, parties that are involved at early stages or throughout the construction process, in the results of our monitor researches over the last years. But how is this rise of BIM reflected by target groups that come in at later stages of the construction value chain, like electrical installers? To what extent are they familiar with and make use of BIM in their projects? To answer these questions we added a section about BIM to the Q3 2020 Electrical Installation Monitor, of which the main theme was Services in the Installation Sector. Aside from services offered by installers, we focussed on services installers expect from manufacturers, including BIM support. To put results in perspective, it was necessary to provide a BIM update among this target group. The results show a major rise in installers’ awareness of BIM over the last two years.

A QUARTER OF EUROPEAN CONTRACTING FIRMS DO DESIGN-BUILD PROJECTS

Traditionally, construction projects are realised by having an architect design a building and putting out a tender request to contractors, after which the selected contractor is responsible for the construction phase. Nowadays, next to these traditional design-tender contracts, another method for the delivery of construction projects in which a single entity is responsible for both design and construction is on the rise. In this design-build method the design-builder or design-build contractor is responsible for the whole process, including architectural services, construction and installation services, and provides these services either internally or by outsourcing them. This method is already quite popular in the US, where a substantial share of non-residential projects are design-build projects.

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