MCN 42nd Annual Contractor Survey Results Show Optimism is Prevailing Factor

Published earlier this month, the results from MCN’s 42 Annual Contractor Survey show “2022 was a year of steady work but not much growth.” Editorial Director, Paul Deffenbaugh comments, “If you wanted to sum up the overall attitude among respondents, you would use this phrase: ‘hold the course, and hope for better.'” Across all the project types surveyed — metal building systems, metal roofing, metal wall panels, and light-gauge steel framing — the survey takers who report they do those kinds of projects remained relatively flat in 2022 compared to 2021.

Regardless, Paul says, “One of the hallmarks of the construction industry and contractors in particular is their abiding optimism.” While numbers were relatively flat between 2021 and 2022, the same survey respondents report optimism toward 2023. With the exception of metal building systems, respondents anticipate being more involved in specific projects, especially with metal roofing and metal wall panels, than they had been in 2022.

When compared to the overall construction market as reported by Dodge Data & Analytics that saw a larger than anticipated increase of 17% between 2021 and 2022, they are not as optimistic about this year. With the cooling residential market and an increase in non-building construction due to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, they are predicting 2023 to be flat, with only a 0.7% increase in starts.

MCN Contractor Survey General Stats

Metal Buildings

Year over year, about 70% of the people who take MCN’s survey are involved in metal building construction. They may be contractors or erectors, but their core business is working with metal building systems. Last year, the survey takers who worked in this field were a little higher than usual, 79.1%, but this year, the number has come into the normal range for the contractor survey. The respondents to this year’s survey report that the metal building projects they completed last year were larger than those reported by last year’s survey takers. The average size of a metal building in 2022 was 37,704 square feet, which was a 15.5% increase over 2021. The rise in the construction of warehouses and other large buildings could account for this change.

Number of Respondents Involved in Metal Building Construction

Metal Roofing

The average size of a metal roof last year was 19,952 square feet, a 2.6% increase over the average size in 2021 (19,449 square feet). For new metal roofs on non-metal buildings, the average size was 17,233 square feet compared to 16,933 square feet in 2021, which was a 1.8% increase.

Number of Respondents Involved in Metal Roofing Construction
Average Square Footage of Metal Roof Projects Completed

Metal Wall Panels

In a measure of consistency, respondents doing metal wall work were most likely to do commercial projects (75.7%), which mirrors the number reporting in metal buildings and metal roofing.The incidence of respondents doing metal wall panel projects on residential work has held steady for the last few years, suggesting that this trend has leveled out. Survey respondents anticipate doing a lot more work in metal wall panel construction in 2023 (54.5%), up from the 45.5% who said they did that kind of work in 2022 and 43.9% in 2021. The average size of a metal wall panel project in 2022 was 22,856 square feet, 20.4% higher than in 2021 (18,986 square feet). 

Number of Respondents Involved in Metal Wall Panel Construction
Average Square Footage of Metal Wall Panels Construction

Light-Gauge Steel Framing

Just over a quarter of respondents expect to do an exterior light-gauge metal framing project but nearly 40% expect to do an interior one in 2023. The exterior projects is a decrease from the 31.8% who said they did one in 2022, but respondents anticipate doing more interior light-gauge framing work when 34.8% did that kind of project 2022. The average size for an exterior framing project was 7,973 square feet in 2022, nearly 50% larger than reported in 2021 (5,411 square feet).

Number of Respondents Involved in Light-Gauge Exterior Framing
Average Square Footage of Light-Gauge Exterior Framing Projects


Metal Construction News is the original news magazine of the metal construction industry and is the premier source for news, products and strategies. Devoted to educating building systems contractors, general contractors, suppliers, manufacturers and more, each issue features project overviews, field techniques, and technical issues dealing with the metal construction industry. MCN is one of METALCON’s publishing partners and sponsor of METALCON’s Official Show Guide.

METALCON is produced in partnership with PSMJ Resources, Inc. and the Metal Construction Association.

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