AI in the New World

Using AI on Your Next Project

by Trent Cotney, Partner, Adams & Reese, LLP

(Editor’s Note:  Trent Cotney, partner at Adams & Reese, LLP, is dedicated to representing the roofing and construction industries.  Cotney is General Counsel for the Western States Roofing Contractors Association and several other industry associations.  For more information, contact the author at (866) 303-5868 or go to

If you have been in the construction industry long enough, you may consider it the land of clipboards, pens, and spreadsheets.  However, in recent years, the industry has progressed, and you are more likely to see job sites with drones, touch-screen tablets, and helmet-mounted cameras.

         Can a robot construct a building on your next project?  Probably not.  But you may be surprised to discover the benefits that artificial intelligence (AI) can offer.

         What is artificial intelligence exactly?  This field of study has been around since the 1950s, and its goal is to blend computer technology and data to maximize problem solving.  Machine learning is part of AI.  It enables computers to learn without specific programming.  What this means is that computers and their systems can evolve and learn from experience.  With AI, machines can take on human tasks but do them faster and more efficiently.

         Please note that I would caution you about using ChatGPT to write your next contract, given the inaccuracies that tool can introduce.  However, there are ways to employ other forms of AI to increase efficiency.

Data Collection

         Every construction project is different, and it can be time-consuming to gather all the information you need for every one of them.  However, machine learning models can digest and analyze significant amounts of data while determining patterns and predicting how similar projects may go.  It accomplishes this with accuracy and thoroughness but without bias, making it quite valuable for the pre-design stage.  By gleaning details from previous projects, AI can create project maps for future endeavors.

Design Development

         As you know, in this phase, a conceptual design becomes a more detailed design that is ready to be built.  AI can play an essential role by identifying innovative processes and tools to improve design development and ultimately shape the cost, efficiency, and functionality of the final product.

Project Management

         AI can use complex algorithms to map the consistent progress of massive projects, which can help prevent supply gaps and avoid mistakes.  This information can also help contractors improve scheduling and organizational tasks.

Cost Reduction and Site Safety

         Many companies are discovering that AI can help them work faster and cheaper.  For example, some robotic devices can trace building blueprints at construction sites, a tedious job that workers have traditionally done by hand with chalk and tape.

         Using AI can also help reduce risk, which is a significant factor in construction.  Cameras and sensors powered by AI can monitor job sites and keep them secure.  They can locate flaws, pinpoint hazards, and prevent accidents.  These safeguards can translate into lower insurance premiums, often a major expense for every project.

Worker Recruitment

         In addition to providing efficiencies, AI tools may attract younger workers to the construction industry.  Apprentices and entry-level workers may welcome the chance to work with robots and drones on the job site.  Also, considering that many of them have spent hours using Xbox and Nintendo controllers, they can quickly learn to fully utilize these devices.

         Using AI might seem to transform your job site into a brave new world, but its capabilities are here and are likely to stay.  Every contractor would be wise to learn about AI and how to use it effectively.  In the years to come, it will probably become an integral part of the construction industry, and it can help you increase efficiency and reduce costs.

         If you have questions about AI, including its advantages and pitfalls to watch for, do not hesitate to consult legal counsel.  An experienced construction attorney can advise you on the latest trends and technologies, helping you determine what is best for your company.

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