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2020 Land development trends

Jan 27, 2020 11:56:53 AM

With the start of a new year (and a new decade), there is always speculation about the future and what it holds. Especially for the land development industry, as the projects and work professionals within this industry literally shape the tangible framework of our society. 

There’s a lot that can go wrong within a project, and we’re watching some of those problems disappear as others arise. Do you know what to expect for the next year, and more importantly, are you prepared to face it? 

Watch out for these trends: 


1. IT and Machine Learning

From the real-estate sector to construction, the construction and land development industry is among the least digitized -- only ahead of the agricultural and hunting industry. There are an increasing number of tools on the market for collecting and analyzing data and automating once gruelingly-long tasks.

Cloud-based data management systems allow process improvements and operational efficiency, while also allowing users to manipulate and read data in an insightful and timely way. This means from finding zoning codes to municipal information, it's easy to collect and share data with your team no matter where you are.

As digitalization is threatening everyone that hasn’t hopped on board, it’s important to follow the majority of the technology adoption curve and stay ahead of the laggards or late adopters who can get pushed out of the industry through an inability to compete. 

2. Labor shortages and increasing preconstruction

According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 80% of construction companies can find the workers they need. As technology becomes more integrated within the industry, this year will see a rise in off-site construction that increases productivity and optimizes resources.

From tightened schedules to site regulations, the only way to optimize the construction process to the necessary standards will be to increase planning beforehand and maximize time in the office. This goes hand-in-hand with skilled labor shortages and could be offloaded through the use of augmented/virtual reality and 3D printing. However, government institutions and private companies will need to increase investment and education of the labor supply to stop the shortage from growing larger in the continuing years. 

3. Emphasis on sustainable practices

Sustainability is a buzzword everyone loves to throw around - but in all seriousness, it’s only growing more and more important. While our population continues to grow, resources remain finite and sustainable construction practices become more and more important.

Many industries have set new standards that uphold all partners to operating in an eco-friendly and socially responsible way, and ignoring this trend is another easy way to get pushed out of the land-development race. Technology has started to address the problems land development face by tracking and monitoring carbon usage, waste and pollution output. 

4. New lot development in suburban areas

Millennials are leaving the cities and into the suburbs, or “Hipsturbia,” as it’s been deemed in recent years. And while they lived in the 24-hour live/work/play environment in cities, they’re now leaving these urban areas and integrating into the suburbs where land developers are constructing live/work/play environments that emulate cities.

This means more office space, public transportation and mixed-use development to approve the millennial ideals of walkable, communal experiences. Watch your county's municipal codes and zoning laws this year as they might change or reflect this trend soon, and make sure you're not working with out-of-date code that could cost you thousands down the road. 

5. Increased processing times

As city engineering and planning sectors are overworked, there will be higher processing times for zoning code and land regulations. This will follow with an increase in design and regulatory requirements that can mean more hoops to jump through for the contractors, designers and project managers. 

This is why it's more important than ever to find the zoning codes and property information you need as soon as possible - you never know how long it'll take to get approved and errors could add months onto your project timeline. 

6. Improved operational efficiency

With the increase of technology in land development comes reduced bottlenecks in the project process and improve current systems of operation. Technology and software can reduce a project’s waste, idle time and timeline delays that will optimize the different stages of a project and improve communication and collaboration across different groups of contractors, clients and operators, making sure everyone is on the same page and has access to what they need, whenever they need it. 

7. Community-oriented development

Shared commercial space, or coworking, will increase across the country. With the decrease of traditional retail comes a rise in mixed-use developments that combine recreation, transit and retail access. This serves as a variant of overlay zoning by the nature of mixed-use land but differs slightly because it’s more focused on the actual building and less about the property.

While specific coworking companies or urban areas like New York City will continue to lead this trend, these developments may pop up in new areas around the country, too. Even offices are moving from individual or private to full of common areas and open floor plans, contributing and encouraging a “community state of mind,” as the Urban Land Institute calls it. From foodie-driven co-ops to green markets that bring farm produce into cities, community-oriented development is impacting the way we experience routine tasks.

PermitDocs: The Perfect Property Information Management Tool

Get ahead and stay ahead of the industry with innovation driven by problem-solvers just like you.  

PermitDocs is your all-in-one source for land development information – we don’t just supply the municipality codes at a click, we also provide all of the zoning and building codes relevant for your projects. 

And, PermitDocs allows you to share, communicate and collaborate over all of this land information – bringing the boots and the suits together so that your team can communicate in real-time, reduce risk while planning and building, and feel confident that you’re making well-informed decisions with reliable information.

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