Grassi construction survey: Sector learned to make virtual pivot in 2020, but couldn’t escape revenue challenges

The construction industry certainly had some unexpected gains in 2020 — especially when it came to the introduction of new technologies, according to Grassi’s 2021 Construction Industry Survey.

Of those surveyed:

  • 57% improved their work-from-home capabilities;
  • 45% adopted virtual toolbox talks and safety videos;
  • 43% learned video conferencing for project walk-throughs;
  • 29% implemented virtual design and construction modeling software.

Perhaps best of all, 79% received a Paycheck Protection Program and/or Economic Injury Disaster Loans grant from the government.

Let’s be clear, it was a challenging year. The industry went from all-time highs in construction spending and nearly full employment in 2019 to shuttered or socially distanced job sites and near-record unemployment in 2020.

To get a full picture, Grassi, a leading provider of advisory, tax and accounting services for the construction industry, surveyed more than 100 subcontractors and contractors — more than 75% of which had at least 20 years in the businesses.

The survey, which was conducted in April and May of this year, also detailed the biggest challenges in the sector, including:

  • 81% had projects were delayed or canceled;
  • 53% saw a decrease in revenue — and 40% of that number said the decrease was at least 30%;
  • 46% felt there were problems in the bidding process, the result of too many bidders for too few jobs;
  • 39% found it difficult to factor COVID-19 costs into projects.

And, of course, finding the right workers was tough. Those surveyed said they struggled to find project managers the most.

Through all this, there still was a bit of optimism: Almost half (46%) of those surveyed predict a full recovery of the construction industry in 2022.

The survey was developed by Grassi’s Construction Practice and advisory board, which consists of industry leaders from across the tri-state area.

The full copy can be found here.