It has been a turbulent couple of years for the construction sector, with contractors tackling the challenges of covid, including keeping teams safe and dealing with staff absences due to self-isolation.

At Chisholm & Winch, we have operated on a business-as-usual basis since the start of the pandemic. We have delivered numerous projects during that time, including completion of our project at Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant distribution hub and the restoration of a grade II listed former temperance hall as a new church and community centre for The TAB in Lewisham. We have adapted to ensure everyone has remained safe, and programmes have stayed on track, drawing on the skills and agile management processes already embedded in our business.

As we look forward to what 2022 will bring, it’s clear that our ability to adapt will be called upon again and will provide a vital support to clients who are all evolving to meet the challenges of a changed world. We have the experience and resources to deliver the projects clients need now. Here are three construction trends that we believe will characterise the sector in 2022.

  1. The agile office

Throughout our five decades in business, Chisholm & Winch has delivered office refurbishment projects, both to update vacant properties and as operational refurbishments in fully occupied buildings.

In the past, the purpose of office refurbishments has generally been to refresh tired finishes and outdated services, or to transform the office interior for a new occupier.

In 2022, the trends affecting office refurbishment are all about creating new environments that meet the needs of businesses that have had to adapt due to the pandemic. Many are trying to entice workers back into the office, others have decided to opt for a homeworking/office working hybrid model and need to build flexibility into the office environment to make that happen. For those who own and let office properties, there is strong competition in the market, which is driving demand for refurbishment projects that deliver marketable agile office space.

At Chisholm & Winch, we are working for both landlords and occupiers to help them reimagine their office interior as a hot desking environment that enables flexible working routines, socialisation in the workplace and improved collaboration.

Working from home has made many people appreciate the benefits of working in a shared space but it has also shown the value of a more relaxed, comfortable environment for productivity, creativity and wellbeing. As a result, we’re seeing a trend for office refurbishments that are designed to enable hot desking, while also focusing on a variety of breakout spaces that can be used as quiet work areas, informal meeting spaces or social hubs. This includes pods, moveable walls, bistro-style seating, and sit/stand areas.

The influence of working from home and the need to entice people back to the office can also be seen in specification choices. We’re seeing greater use of natural materials such as living walls and interior timber cladding, and a softer colour palette. With our in-house joinery capabilities, it’s great to see this focus on natural materials, textures and tones in workplace settings.  

  1. Re-purposing vacant properties

While people are steadily returning to their normal routines of working in the office, the retail sector is struggling to attract footfall back to the high street. The sector was already faltering before the pandemic and, following numerous lockdowns and restrictions, our armchair shopping habits look set to be a continuing trend that will redefine the built environment in urban centres.

For local authorities, this creates a challenge of empty properties that need to be repurposed if they are to avoid becoming eyesores.

There are some great properties, ripe for conversion, in excellent locations. Our refurbishment expertise at Chisholm & Winch means that we are well-placed to transform existing properties from empty retail stores and enable them to have a second life. This could include converting retail properties into residential accommodation or retirement living, hotels or co-working spaces.

With our refurbishment experience across the commercial and residential sectors, we are well-placed to carry out the remodelling works required for projects of this kind, along with the internal fit-out and finishes. For many high streets, the properties now lying vacant are heritage buildings too and, once again, our experience in the heritage sector ensures we have the skills to deliver sensitive restoration work while updating the building for a new era and new purpose.

  1. Fast track projects

Disruption has been a significant factor of the pandemic experience for all of us. For construction companies like Chisholm & Winch, the challenges have not only been operational; we have also seen projects being put on hold and budgets frozen while clients waited to see what would happen. Thanks to the added pressure of longer lead times and volatile pricing for materials, many projects have paused, often before they have even made it to site.

In 2022, clients are keen to make up for lost time. Capex is being released to enable projects to go ahead, lead times and price volatility are stabilising and upgrade programmes that were delayed during the pandemic now need to proceed urgently as part of routine maintenance.

Catching up on postponed projects and delayed programmes requires a fast-track approach to planning and delivery from an experienced construction contractor. At Chisholm & Winch, our in-house team of skilled tradespeople means that we can provide improved reliability for accurate planning and delivery aligned to schedule. It also means that we remain agile enough to work around other contractors where required, focusing on the best outcome for the project and getting the job done safely and efficiently, on time and to the highest standards.

Fast track should never mean rushed, our approach is to collaborate effectively with the client to programme activity around their mission critical deadlines and deploy the right resources to get the job done. Often this includes out of hours working to deliver an operational refurbishment project while a building remains occupied.

Experience matters

After five decades in business, Chisholm & Winch has seen many trends come and go and we have adapted as the construction market has evolved. That experience has been an excellent foundation for working around the challenges of the pandemic and will help us deliver on current trends in 2022.