The future of construction: This week, we bring you a new series that highlights expert interviews discussing the future of construction. Throughout this series, you’ll hear from a custom home builder, a remodeler/green builder and a volume home builder.
The topic of discussion: How to plan for the future of your construction company. Learn from the experts in the field as they share their seasoned experience and outlook for the construction industry in 2023 and beyond. Spoiler alert: Building apps are here to stay.
Expansive verandas with ocean views. Custom pools with palm tree backdrops. Pristine countertops with reflections of the warm Charleston sunshine. It’s all part of the Grand Experience.
Straight out of South Carolina, CopeGrand Homes builds top-of-the-line beauties in both the heart of Lowcountry and Upstate South Carolina. Twin brothers, Adam and Ben Copenhaver, founded CopeGrand Homes in 2015 based in Charleston and have since expanded to several locations upstate.
Q: What do you see as the biggest change in the industry since you started building?
Adam: The biggest challenge we’ve faced since starting CopeGrand is navigating the economic cycles. In relation to COVID and what it did to the supply chain and cost, it was a different challenge for every builder that no one had dealt with before or could’ve anticipated.
If you couple that with communication with clients about these issues, this has been the biggest challenge in recent years in the construction industry. I love how much Buildertrend has helped us with this.
COVID brought on a significant and unexpected increase in demand, along with significant and unexpected supply chain constraints and unannounced cost increases. There isn’t a builder in any modern developed country across the world who didn’t endure this. The largest opportunity that came from it was the necessity to improve regular communications with our clients.
We’re very grateful to have had Buildertrend’s platform to be able to plan and communicate as effectively as we were able to during these times.
Q: What tech swaps have you made to prepare CopeGrand for a more digitized future?
Adam: I couldn’t say that we’ve swapped any technologies recently. We’ve been using Buildertrend for a long time now and haven’t had to make any swaps. Instead, I’d say we’ve bootstrapped our tech with additional in-house resources and continued focus on Buildertrend as the backbone of our communication hub.
This includes communication with our clients, architects, subs and trades to share and interact with all project-related communication and files. We’re often referring to Buildertrend as our “online filing cabinet” for everything project-related.
Our clients want to stay in touch with the project as it progresses. Having Buildertrend as the resource for that information in real time with real communication channels has greatly benefited the level of connection with our clients.
Q: What are some important trends in the construction industry that other home builders should pay attention to?
Adam: The biggest trend that has evolved from the supply chain issues has been the driving necessity to continue to improve communication lines with the supply chain and the labor force. We’ve improved our communication techniques by implementing Buildertrend as our communication device.
Proper planning and preparation begin with pre-construction. We’ve made a monumental shift here over the past couple of years, which continues to pay dividends in mitigating supply chain constraints, including those of physical goods and labor force resources.
We continue to hear from our clients and partners that our management of communication and project details has also made their roles much easier and efficient.
The dividends I mentioned could be measured in dollars, but the value that’s created in our relationships continues to be the extraordinary differentiator between us and others in the market.
Q: Creating personalized homes comes with its own challenges. What helps you stay organized while juggling projects?
Adam: Regular meetings or ‘huddles’ as we refer to them. Very similar to a sports team, we continue to come to each other in these meetings to evaluate our progress, schedule the next critical path to-do’s and cover each other’s backs to make sure we’re not missing critical details.
In each one of these meetings, Buildertrend is our resource for managing our schedule, identifying completed and upcoming to-do’s and tracking our progress.
You’re right, building very personalized and unique homes has challenges and deep complexities. The only way to remain sane, though, is by having experienced resources, proper scheduling and effective, regular communication.
Q: Thinking forward to next steps, what role do you see technology in construction play in the future of your business?
Adam: We’re going to continue to pursue further levels of integration with technology to improve our business. Our focus will remain on our process — in tweaking it, measuring it and continually improving it.
The idea here is that the more effective communication tools we implement, the more predictable and streamlined the results will be. And results are the most important deliverables that we can provide to our team and to our clients.
I keep going back to Buildertrend because y’all continue to be the single resource that we depend on to continue evolving our company. There hasn’t been a single other app or software that has made a greater impact and continues to make a greater impact on our business than Buildertrend.
Q: What’s one thing you construction teams should prepare for in 2023?
Adam: I truly believe that 2023 is going to bring back a more predictable pace in our industry. While we’ve been managing and reacting to so many changes and challenges over the past couple of years, and while it has improved and strengthened our organization, I’m looking forward to a more predictable market.
If I’m correct, I think this is going to be a great time for builders to focus on restructuring key performance metrics and key deliverables for their team and for their clients. I think so many will agree that these were tough to find and measure over the past couple of years — so I’m personally looking forward to being able to feel like I have more control over those results going forward.
Q: The industry has been hit with several challenges since COVID – labor shortages, inflation, interest rates – how have you stayed competitive through it all?
Adam: We’ve been fortunate enough to organize our company and our projects to react in real-time to labor demands and price fluctuations.
So much of the credit goes to the relationships we have with our trade partners and vendors. When we saw what was coming with the demand in the market, we met with these folks to address what was coming down the line to fortify our commitments to each other.
To be completely honest, it’s been a really tough time to be a builder. The reality of the increases in costs of material and labor was just that — a new reality.
When adjustments were required as a result of price increases, we made the best of it by communicating as early as possible. I think the key here is planning.
When we use our tools, like Buildertrend, we’re prepared for our projects at a whole other level. This allows us and our clients to react to changes much quicker and with better information then we used to be able to.
Q: What is the future of construction?
Adam: I think there are two separate areas I can address here for the future of construction. There’s the future of managing a construction business, and there’s the future of the trade industry. I believe they both have very different futures.
The builders and contractors who are going to thrive in the future are the ones that are embracing technology, communication and organization resources. The ones that don’t are going to find themselves left behind – I believe it’s just as simple as that.
If you take a look around and study other industries, you’ll find that technology continues to evolve — at an ever-increasing pace — the ways and methods we communicate.
If a builder desires to be in touch with their clients, I believe it’ll be critical for them to be able to do so at the level and with the modes that their clients are communicating with. All of this is supported with technology and organization.
On the labor side of things, we’re going to have a lot less resources for skilled labor. It’ll continue to be a disruptor in our industry and therefore is an opportunity for so many who pursue the path of skilled trades. Scarcity increases value, and those with skills in our industry will become more prominent than the most valuable asset in construction.
And can I just add that I’m a super fan of Buildertrend and what y’all have done over there. Keep up the great work, and thank you on behalf of all the builders and contractors for which you have enabled to become more organized, better communicators and more effective.
Lead your team into the future of construction technology
CopeGrand is evidence that Buildertrend can be a vital tool for your team’s success. The future of home building is digital, and Buildertrend’s construction management software may be your most valuable tech asset.
Are you ready to step into the future of construction management? If you’re not already using the platform, schedule a demo today and learn how to work simpler.
Like the advice you read here? Tune in next week for our second installment of The Future of Construction Series. We’ll have a Q&A with Bob Deeks of RDC Fine Homes featuring the future of green construction. Bob discusses low carbon solutions and why they should be at the forefront of your team’s to-do list.