Canada Market Intelligence Report 2018

Gerard McCabe

Managing Director

North America

The second edition of our construction market intelligence report for Canada offers market analysis, as well as a useful construction cost guide for a broad range of building asset classes for 11 cities across the country. It also features a variety of articles, interviews and project profiles.

This issue includes:

General economic forecast: overview

An overview of Canadian economic projections for 2018.

Client interview: Beyond restoration: reviving a heritage venue

We spoke to Massey Hall’s Director of Operations, Grant Troop for his insight on their successful and ongoing renovations to the infamous Massey Hall.

Regional intelligence: Western Canada

We look in more detail at the markets of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and The North.

Regional intelligence: Eastern Canada

We look in more detail at the markets of Eastern Ontario, Southern Ontario, Northern Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

The construction world of tomorrow: a look at how technology is shaping our future

Mark Jones explores how technology will impact the future of the construction industry.

Client interview: Bank of Canada

We spoke to Bank of Canada’s Director of the Control Office, Nathalie Boucher to talk about this historical building’s successful renovations.

For full analysis and insights, download the full report.

Download the full Canada Market Intelligence Report 2018

Featured article - The construction world of tomorrow: a look at how technology is shaping our future

- Mark Jones Director, Turner & Townsend

The march of technology is creating new networks and opportunities which will transform the way we design, deliver and use buildings. Mark Jones wonders what the world will look like as we head into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A woman stands on the corner of the street, tapping at her smart phone. Is she calling a cab, turning on the furnace at home or investing in a local business? And if all those things are possible today, what else could be possible tomorrow?

Let’s skip forward to 2023. The woman is climbing into a driverless Uber – one of the 24,000 the company bought from Volvo between 2019 and 2021 – and heads off across the city. There are lots of building projects underway and, from a distance, it’s business-as-usual. But in reality everything has changed from funding to design to construction methods to how companies occupy and use buildings.

Going with the crowd

In 2023, governments and public authorities are using crowd-sourcing to democratize urban planning and fund new civic projects.

Back in 2017, the City of Toronto floated plans to use crowdfunding to pay for new road safety plans. Donors had a say on which safety measure they would like to see their money used for.

The growth in civic crowdfunding has been exponential. Already by 2018, cash-strapped local authorities in the UK have turned to sites like and to help them raise money for local projects from local communities. In San Francisco, allowed people to invest directly into places and public projects.

What this means is that, in 2023, the people who live and work in communities are using the power of digital platforms to enable completely new ways to operate those communities and influence how they look and feel.

Inspired design

Will artificial intelligence and the Fourth Industrial Revolution sound the death knell for the designer? Well, maybe the bad ones.

There’s no doubt that computers will be carrying out design tasks that humans do today. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has already automated some traditional design roles.

In 2018, BIM allows much better communication between designer and client, with the ability to walk through virtual buildings, look at complicated interfaces in 3D or see the impact of a building on its neighbours. We will enhance our ability to effectively communicate a design as virtual and augmented reality advance.

The next step is computerized generative design, a fast way of exploring the various possibilities and permutations of a building’s design. This should leave the human designers free to be more creative. They can work with a building’s users to establish boundaries and what elements of the design are most important.

Another way BIM will help is in modelling ‘whole life’ scenarios through the use of a ‘digital twin’. In this way, the operation and maintenance of the asset may be simulated, not just construction.

Together, this will lead to much better overall outcomes for clients and occupiers.

In 2023, as the driverless Uber shuttles the construction professional of the future across town, she uses her phone to run ‘what if’ scenarios on the building, taking into account the multitude of interlocking variables, and see instantly the impact on cost, schedule, risk and outcomes.

Automated sites

Like driverless Ubers, driverless delivery and construction vehicles are just around the next corner (they are already well established in mining and have been used already in the UK on the A14). And why not driverless cranes too? In Singapore, port operator PSA Corporation is already working with the National University of Singapore to develop automated yard cranes.

Drones are already commonplace on site, used for taking progress photos and videos and for surveying. By 2023, their use and versatility will have multiplied.

In 2023, as the woman arrives at the construction site, offsite-built elements and materials are also arriving – just as they are needed - from construction consolidation centres. They have been designed for very simple assembly on site, needing fewer specialist skills and therefore allowing much greater flexibility in resourcing. The BIM model for the project, embedded with product, cost, asset and schedule information, is automatically ordering all materials to site.

Today, a New York company called Construction Robotics has already invented a bricklaying robot called SAM100 (semi-automated mason).

By 2023, we can expect a whole variety of other robots to report for duty on site.

We have already seen the first 3D printed houses, where layers of concrete are built up to form walls. A San Francisco-based 3D printing company (Apis Cor) constructed the walls of a 400sq.ft. house in Russia. Contractor Skanska 3D-printed a polymer canopy for the roof terrace of an office building in London. And next comes 4D printing, which sees an object change shape or self-assemble over time with the influence of stimuli such as water, heat or light.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution brings a much more efficient construction logistics system, and a transformation in the physical activity of constructing the built environment. After 7,000 years, the human hand will stop

laying bricks.

Blockchain transparency

Just as the design of a building’s elements, the ordering of those elements and their installation is automated, so too will be payments thanks to the Blockchain.

The Blockchain is a database of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network. With currency – such as Bitcoin – this means that no third parties or middlemen are involved.

In 2023, transactions are digitized, grouped in blocks and every transaction is recorded. In construction, those transactions include the arrival of materials and goods on site, and payment for those goods and other services.

The Blockchain gives rise to the possibility of smart contracts which now take into account contract conditions such as payment terms and confidentiality. Payment flows digitally and instantly down through the supply chain when those conditions are met.

Optimistically, this could mean fewer disputes and greater efficiency as fewer resources are spent chasing payments and/or preparing claims. Ontario’s Construction Act (nee Construction Lien Act), with its measures for prompt payment and arbitration, could become redundant.

The human factor

In 2023, our construction professional of the future steps onto the site and new technologies abound. With so many digital technologies taking hold, the roles of professionals at all phases of a property’s lifecycle have been transformed.

Some roles could disappear altogether, as peer-to-peer transactions cut out the middlemen and trades are replaced with robots. With digitization and automated logistics, owners may start to contract directly with the lower tiers of a supply chain. Standardization and a ‘kit of parts’ approach for homes, schools and hospitals could minimize the need for traditional design and revolutionize the productivity of construction.

With many mundane activities automated or removed altogether, we can focus more on human interaction. Property managers become enablers of wellbeing and productivity. Data and analytics will provide insights into how organizations really work, what environments are the most productive, and how individuals behave.

We will all need to develop new skillsets and new ways of working together.

In particular, we will need to recognize the increased importance of the Data Asset. Data is the lifeblood of optimal construction and operation of buildings. Recognition of its value and the importance of human skills and activities needed to structure and maintain it are crucial in realizing the benefits of future technology.

Our notion of workplace will change dramatically. The ability to be agile, to provide productive spaces as groups and projects form and disband, could lead to new leasing arrangements and physical space which is far more fluid and easy to re-configure (just look at the success of WeWork as evidence of this trend).

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. We shouldn’t be afraid of it, nor should we dismiss it as something that won’t happen in our lifetimes. Turn around, there is a taxi headed to the future.