There is no escaping the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI). It comes in many forms and while many have been using it for years already, countless industries worldwide are also beginning to adopt it into their daily work life. And construction is no exception. As we hurtle towards the future, adapting and adopting AI and digitalizing practices can streamline processes, make building more efficient and safe, and help companies with what were once mundane, time-consuming tasks.
But what exactly is AI in construction used for and what is available? Below we speak to experts in the field of home construction who share their experiences with AI and how they use it. We also explore AI which is quickly becoming part of the norm for construction companies.
What AI Technology Is Available in Construction?
Many types of machines and processes use AI. These can range from computer programming for processing information to robots that carry out physical construction work.
Due to AI being able to process and analyze a large amount of data, it can help ease and make planning more efficient and accurate. Environmental and geographical factors, historical project data, and scheduling are just some areas where AI can help. AI can also adapt construction timelines in real time in case of the unexpected. This could be for things such as natural disasters, strikes, or supply chain issues.
When you think of AI and future technology, many people think of robots. And while they do already exist, they are not yet so commonplace in construction. However, some companies are setting the pace for such tech. For example, Australian company FBR has developed a brick-laying robot which they call Hadrian X. As they state on their website it “measures dynamic interference and movement in real-time and counteracts this movement to maintain stability and deliver unprecedented precision in variable conditions.”
AI can be used in order to predict when equipment will need maintenance, aptly known as predictive maintenance. By monitoring the condition of construction equipment and machinery in real-time, AI can estimate when maintenance is necessary, thus avoiding costly repairs if the equipment breaks down later down the line.
Thanks to AI-powered sensors and cameras, safety on worksites is improving. The sensors and cameras can detect and identify potential hazards such as a lack of safety equipment and gear or unsafe practices. It can also identify patterns to help predict safety issues.
Building information modeling (BIM) and 3D modeling
Building information modeling (BIM) is a digital process used to improve design and construction. AI can further enhance these processes by creating 3D models. These 3D models give valuable insights to improve the overall construction process.
Drones with AI-powered cameras
Drones can be used in a multitude of ways to make construction more efficient and safe. Drones can use AI sensor technology to identify potential dangers. As well as this, AI-powered cameras on drones can capture aerial images to provide real-time updates on progress. AI clearing can produce reports on this progress much quicker than before.
But How Common Is AI in Construction in 2023? Experts Reveal How They Use It
We spoke to residential construction companies to understand exactly how they are incorporating AI into their work process. While many are still yet to begin using AI, here are what those who have embraced AI said are some of the different ways they are using it.
Blog content and marketing
At the end of 2022, the world became captivated by the power of AI technologies like ChatGPT. This language model can allow users to complete various tasks, such as writing articles. One area of the construction industry that we cannot forget about is marketing. Companies have marketing strategies and this includes online blog content. Rick Berres, Owner of Honey Doers, says that “We have used AI to cut down on the time that it takes to publish blog content. Our writer has AI create the framework of a piece, then edits, fact-checks, and humanizes it.” Likewise, Eric Corey Freed says that his company, CannonDesign uses “ChatGPT for writing needs.”
Elsewhere for marketing purposes, Jeff Pelletier explains how his company, Board & Vellum, “are using it to create first drafts of marketing collateral.”
If clients are constantly getting in touch the last thing you want is to have queries going unanswered. AI can help alleviate the manpower needed to message clients back. For example, Wesley Niemiec, Owner of Coastal Construction Group LLC, explains that “We are beginning to use AI in our phone service and for messaging/chatting with customers online.” Similarly, Rick Byrd, Byrd Design & Build, says “AI-powered chatbots can handle customer inquiries, provide real-time assistance, and offer personalized recommendations.”
A key area where AI can be very helpful to workers in construction is project management. There is an array of different aspects where AI can come into play. For example, Byrd says “AI can streamline project management by automating administrative tasks, scheduling, and resource allocation. AI can analyze vast amounts of data related to customer preferences, market trends, and project performance to identify patterns, make predictions, and inform decision-making.”
Jeremiah Russell, Principal & Architect, at ROGUE Architecture, shares that they use “Motion App for project management. It automatically updates our calendar tasks based on availability.” While Charles Hendricks, Architect at Gaines Group Architects, uses AI for “billing sorting and coordination.”
While some companies are just starting to test out how they can best implement AI, others have already taken a multipronged approach. Artem Kropovinsky, Interior Designer and Founder of Arsight, an interior design studio based in New York, says that they are using AI for a range of tasks. One of which is to generate 3D models of spaces, saying “This allows us to create photorealistic visualizations of our designs, which helps our clients to better understand and visualize their space before any work is done.”
Measuring and plans
Kropovinsky goes on to explain how his company is automating tasks: “AI can automate many of the tedious tasks involved in interior design, such as measuring and drafting plans. This frees up our time to focus on more creative and strategic work.”
As well as performing tasks, AI can also provide insights and generate ideas. Kropovinsky continues by stating that “AI can analyze data to provide us with insights into our clients' needs and preferences. This helps us to create designs that are tailored to their individual needs. AI can [also] generate new ideas for designs, which can help us to break the mold and create something truly unique.”
Time to Embrace AI in Construction
As we have heard firsthand from experts currently working in the construction industry, AI in construction is improving the way companies work. Looking forward, it is going play a more pivotal role in the construction process, from planning, research, and marketing to building and project management. By adopting AI, companies can work more efficiently and safely. And while AI may not always be perfect, it is time for companies to investigate what works well for them.
Adam Graham is an industry analyst at Fixr.com. He analyzes and writes about the real estate and home construction industries, covering a range of associated topics. He has been featured in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens and The Boston Globe and has written for various outlets including the National Association of Realtors, and Insurance News Net Magazine.