Five Takeaways From the 2022 International Builders’ Show
Brought to You by L.E.K.'s Building & Construction Practice
This year’s International Builders’ Show, which took place in Orlando, Florida (Feb. 6-10), marked a return to in-person conferencing. Judging from the turnout, it was a welcome change after an all-virtual event the previous year. L.E.K. Consulting was on the scene, connecting with clients and making the rounds among exhibitors and attendees. Here are the five things we took away.
Optimism about near- to mid-term demand shines bright, despite rising uncertainty over new residential construction. Make no mistake: Between rapid price appreciation and an anticipated hike in mortgage rates, housing affordability is an issue. The outlook for residential construction is still strong due to homeowners’ continued enthusiasm for improving and investing in their living spaces, the movement to the suburbs, and decades of underbuilding. As a result, builders expect continued activity but note we may also see a pickup in repair and remodel activity, which could offset any slowing of growth in new construction.
Residential builders continue to grapple with product availability issues and rising costs (especially international container shipment and transportation costs). Everything from insulation to appliances to garage doors has been squeezed, with distributors in some cases having to put their customers on allocation. The supply chain backlog is, as one attendee put it, “like a ball of string. It’s just going to take a while to unwind.” These issues are causing installation and job delays.
The COVID-19 pandemic kicked an existing construction labor shortage into overdrive. The cost of labor is going up while the availability is going down, sending builders scrambling to compete for skilled workers. As a result, there was more interest in prefabricated and modular solutions, which can speed up installation and reduce the need for on-site assembly. This year’s show featured a wide range of tools and products aimed at reducing homebuilders’ labor needs.
Cooking surfaces, privacy screens, waterfalls — exhibitors rolled out a host of outdoor living products for 2022, a sign of the megatrend’s enduring strength. Builders are continuing to see growth in construction and renovation projects for home buyers and owners looking to extend their time outside. Remote work and the appreciation in home prices are driving interest in more elaborate spaces that remain inviting even if the weather is not.
Traditional and eclectic designs are yielding to the clean lines and serene color schemes that define modern minimalism. Examples on display this year included bold accents, streamlined plumbing fixtures and white stone countertops (especially quartz). The minimalist aesthetic gives homeowners a way to embrace simplicity without giving up luxury, providing a personal retreat from an increasingly complex and unpredictable world.