The last five years have been a tumultuous time for the Queensland construction industry. During this relatively short period we have experienced a housing boom, the Global Financial Crisis, a mining boom and increasing technological change. 
As we enter 2016, many businesses may be wondering what’s next in store for the construction industry. To help companies plan ahead, CSQ's Evidence and Data Team has put together a list of hot trends that will likely shape the industry over the coming year.
The return of new builds – Traditionally new builds account for about 9 out of 10 building projects in Queensland, with the balance coming in the form of additions, alterations and conversions. In the years following the GFC, many people opted to renovate instead of build anew. During this time, the proportion of new builds dropped to as low as 80%. But the data indicates the historical pattern is being restored, and CSQ predicts the share of new builds will stabilise around the 90% norm in 2016.
A healthy residential sector – Residential building has been doing everything it can to pick up the slack left by the steep wind-down in mining construction over recent years. Both 2014 and 2015 saw double-digit growth in building starts in Queensland. While this trend will soften in 2016, CSQ expects solid single-digit growth for Queensland building starts, probably around 5%.
Labour surplus to peak – The decline in total construction activity across Queensland in recent years led to a surplus of construction workers. There are simply fewer projects than people ready to work. CSQ predicts this surplus will peak in 2016, and begin its return toward balance. It is estimated that the number of unemployed construction workers in Queensland will average around 16,000 in 2016, about 8% of the construction workforce.
Prefabrication and modular homes – An increasing amount of both residential and commercial construction work will be completed in controlled building environments. Prefabrication has the potential to offer time and cost savings over conventional construction methods. We are already starting to see whole townhouse communities built using modular components.
A timber resurgence – Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) or “tilt up timber” is popular in Europe and North America. On the back of some recent successful trials here in Australia, we expect this technology to be adopted more widely by our industry. Strong and lightweight, CLT offers an exciting alternative to concrete and can be used to form complete floors, roofs and walls. As a timber product, CLT is also often a more sustainable choice.
The Smart home – Home automation platforms such as Savent and Control 4 are making it easier than ever before for homeowners to centrally control entertainment, airconditoning, lighting, appliances, alarm systems and locks from their tablet. These systems are becoming more common in new homes and often require complex electrical work to install. 
Opportunities in installation services –  The Australian Government Department of Employment expects Building Installation Services to a substantial source of jobs growth over the next five years. The number of workers in the category, which comprises awnings, curtains, elevators, escalators, flywire screens and insulation, is set to jump by 20.7% over the next five years.
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