Construction Bidding Activity Soared To Record Levels This Year
Construction contractor bidding activity has increased beyond pre-pandemic levels, hitting a record high in January 2021, according to a report from Autodesk.
The report relied on anonymized data from BuildingConnected, part of the Autodesk Construction Cloud that tracks the bidding activity of over 1 million property owners, general contractors, construction managers and subcontractors nationally.
Although U.S. bidding activity was rising in early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic’s onset thrust it downward by 34% over 60 days following March 19. However, a slow recovery of activity resulted in a 15% uptick in bidding levels in November compared to a three-month pre-pandemic average, and then a subsequent 36% increase in January 2021, representing a record high for the BuildingConnected platform’s data.
The increased bidding results from projects restarting from the pandemic hiatus rather than new projects, the report concluded, stating that the rate of new projects over the past year has been flat.
"While it's not an indication that we're entirely out of the woods, the real-time bidding data from BuildingConnected suggests that delayed or rescheduled projects may be coming back online," construction economist Ed Zarenski said in a statement regarding the report. "Increased levels of bidding activity, paired with the data that project volume has remained consistent, signals the industry is getting back to work — and doing so quickly.”
A construction outlook report from JLL forecasts that new project starts will remain lower through the first half of 2021 before picking up in the second half. This follows Dodge Analytics data indicating that in 2020 single-family home construction starts went up by 11% while nonresidential starts dropped by 24%.
Meanwhile, the Autodesk report forecasts a 6% increase in nonresidential projects in 2021.
In addition to higher bids, the construction industry climate has been marked by increased labor and materials costs over the past year, especially for lumber and steel. Another defining feature of the post-pandemic construction industry is the greater adoption of construction technologies during the last nine months of 2020, according to another report from JLL, which claimed that last year’s tech adoption rate would have otherwise taken place over the course of three years.
"In the early days of the pandemic, the construction industry turned to technology to readjust as we facilitated social distancing, implemented jobsite safety guidelines and moved our offices into our homes,” Autodesk Construction Solutions Senior Vice President Jim Lynch said in a statement. "Now that the industry looks to be picking up and teams are headed back to the jobsite, adopting technology, digitizing workflows, and upskilling employees is more important than ever to handle the increased workload.”