2014 Looks Bright for Chicago Real Estate and Construction Industry

October 28, 2013

Andy and Mike with CD+CThe construction industry is looking up and lightening up for 2014! Here are our thoughts on what’s next for the Chicago real estate and construction industry in 2014:

Lighter Materials:

Using lighter materials will have a significant impact on the contractors’ bottom lines, increasing productivity and reducing workplace injuries. A few of the newer products include lighter drywall sheeting and concrete options.

As every professional knows, traditional drywall is heavy and its dimensions make it difficult to handle.  A half-inch thick sheet of drywall measuring the standard 4-feet by 8-feet weighs around 57 pounds, so lifting and maneuvering over the course of a project can take its toll. Even the smallest weight reduction will make a big difference.

Currently, two companies that we know of are producing lighter sheetrock, USG and Georgia Pacific. Both companies claim their products are as strong and perform as well as heavier sheets, and USG claims its products are up to 30% lighter. As technology improves and demand picks up, we expect to see the competition offering similarly weighted products.

Among the masonry options that are available today are lightweight aggregate concrete, foamed concrete or autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). Such lightweight concrete blocks are often used in house construction, and the particulars of a job site and structural needs will determine which type can be used. For example, foamed concrete is ideal for filling redundant voids, such as disused pipelines and sewers, as well for thermal insulation like under-floor voids.

Lower Energy Consumption:

While not officially banned yet, the government is trying to pass measures to phase out incandescent bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives. We are seeing the use of these alternatives in both residential and commercial construction projects, including Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs.

There also is less demand for “frivolous” lighting and more thought is being put into lighting each area very specifically for that particular need. In general, designers are being more strategic and energy conscious when creating lighting that not only provides the right atmosphere, but gives off just the right amount of light for each area: no more and no less. While many of the newer lighting options are more expensive up front, most last longer and will save the owners money in the long term.

Energy efficient appliances and solar panels are continuing to grow in demand as well, and we expect that trend to continue.

Being Green is Becoming Easier:

The economic and eco-benefits of creating green buildings by using sustainable materials will continue to trend upward. Green construction technology covers everything from energy-efficient appliances to geothermal heating. Some of the more advanced products include bio-degradable paint (made with milk), insulation that is made from the cotton of recycled denim instead of from fiberglass and Electrochromic Smart Glass that tints on command.

In addition to the savings derived from lower energy use, the government also offers tax benefits to encourage builders and homeowners to go green.

Technology Wars Heat Up:

The race is on for manufactures to develop the most advanced construction products and tools that are easier to install, offer better performance, are more sustainable and outlast those of their competitors.

For example, lasers are becoming a must-use tool for professionals. There are numerous types of lasers available for various site tasks, including those for leveling, plumbing, measuring elevation, distance excavation work and many other projects.

We think the use of 3D printers will increase as the costs drop. These can be used to quickly create elaborate models of buildings and interiors.

Overall, we think the construction industry will see new technology and sophisticated systems being developed to allow professionals to deliver building projects on shorter timelines with increased efficiency, all without compromising quality or safety.

CD+C LogoCD + C was founded in 2002 by long-time business partners Michael Caravello and Andrew Brenner. With their well-versed architectural background and more than 20 years in the design and construction industries, the team and their associates offer a thorough and comprehensive approach to the construction market, from conceptual design to the design and development of ideas and costs, to the implementation of construction. CD+C’s general services include production of permit, construction and/or supporting shop drawings or acting solely as the general contractor while collaborating with other designers and architects. 


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Chicago Design + Construction is a design / build and general contracting firm located in downtown Chicago, Illinois. The company was formed in 2002 by the principals Michael Caravello and Andrew Brenner. With their well-versed architectural background and 15 years in the design and construction industries, they offer a thorough and comprehensive approach to the construction market.

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