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How to Measure and Maximize ROI in Construction

Perhaps one of the toughest tests faced by construction companies is maintaining, if not improving, the bottom line. Whereas subcontractors may charge overhead and profit of 10% or more, margins for general contractors and construction managers tend to be much tighter. It’s not uncommon for general contractors to earn between 1-5% on a construction project.

ROI is different from profit margin, which is capped at 100% and reflects the amount of profit earned relative to revenue. ROI, on the other hand, can exceed 100% as it measures profitability relative to cost. Due to the razor-thin margins, construction managers should make efforts to maximize their return on investment (ROI). Construction projects involve significant financial commitments, and understanding the potential returns is essential for informed decision-making.

This article will serve as a guide to ROI in construction. We’ll start by covering what ROI is. Then, we’ll dive into specifics like what constitutes a good ROI in construction, how to calculate it, and why it holds such importance. Additionally, we will delve into how Avvir's solutions can help maximize the ROI of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) assets.

ROI in Construction — the Basics

ROI in construction is a metric that measures the profitability of an investment relative to its cost. Essentially, it measures the efficiency of capital utilization. It is often expressed as a percentage. A higher ROI implies better financial performance and a more favorable outcome. However, determining a good ROI in construction can be subjective and depends on various factors.

How to Measure a Good ROI in Construction

ROI in construction: engineers walking through a construction site

Determining what constitutes a good return on investment in construction can vary depending on several factors, highlighted below.

Project Type

Different types of construction projects may have varying expectations for ROI. For instance, large-scale infrastructure projects like highways or airports may have lower ROI expectations compared to smaller commercial or residential projects.

Understanding the nature of the project and its typical ROI benchmarks within the industry is crucial. Comparing the expected ROI to industry benchmarks and standards allows investors to assess the project's competitiveness and determine if it aligns with typical performance in similar projects. Industry associations, professional networks, and historical data can serve as valuable resources for benchmarking ROI in construction.

Market Conditions

Economic conditions and regional market dynamics can also influence what is considered a good ROI. In a robust economy with high demand for construction projects and favorable financing conditions, higher ROI expectations may be reasonable.

However, more conservative ROI expectations may be appropriate in a sluggish market or during economic downturns. Construction businesses may make strategic decisions to lower margins, or even perform work at cost, to ensure there is work in the pipeline during slower times.

Risk Tolerance

Construction professionals have varying levels of risk tolerance. Some may be willing to take on higher-risk projects if it means potentially receiving a larger profit. Others may prioritize stability in their workflows and opt for lower-risk projects. Assessing the potential risks associated with a construction project and factoring them into ROI calculations is essential in determining what constitutes a good ROI.


The timeframe for achieving ROI can also influence what is considered good. Construction projects often have longer payback periods, and the time it takes to recoup the investment can vary widely. Consideration should be given to the project duration and the time it takes to generate positive cash flow. For instance, if a large retainage is held, it’s possible that you will be cash negative for the entirety of the project.

Value Creation

Beyond financial returns, evaluating the value created by the construction project is important. A good ROI should not only generate positive financial outcomes but also contribute to long-term value creation. This can include factors such as improved asset value, enhanced market position, increased operational efficiency, or positive societal impact.

Ultimately, what constitutes a good ROI in construction is subjective and dependent on project-specific circumstances and individual investor goals. It is essential to consider multiple factors, conduct thorough financial analysis, benchmark against industry standards, and align expectations with prevailing market conditions to determine what would be considered a satisfactory return on investment in a construction project.

How to Calculate ROI in Construction

The formula to calculate ROI in construction is relatively straightforward:

ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100

Net profit is the revenue generated from the investment minus the total costs incurred. All construction costs must be considered to receive an accurate ROI. This includes both indirect costs, like overhead expenses and administrative fees, as well as direct costs, such as labor, materials, and equipment.

Why It’s Important to Understand ROI

Understanding the ROI is essential for several reasons:

How Avvir Can Help Maximize the ROI of VDC Assets

Avvir impact

Avvir's solutions can play a crucial role in maximizing the ROI of existing VDC assets. Avvir specializes in automating risk analysis through construction progress monitoring and deviation detection. By leveraging existing VDC assets such as BIMs, 360 Photography, and laser scanning, Avvir provides accurate and near real-time data on construction site conditions.

With Avvir's solutions, construction stakeholders can benefit in several ways:

Improved Accuracy

Avvir's technology eliminates human error and provides highly accurate data on project progress. This precision enables project managers to make more informed decisions, avoid costly mistakes, and reduce rework, ultimately leading to improved ROI. The photo above demonstrates how Avvir captured critical deviations in 1.5% of total elements analyzed, at a volume that is possible only when utilizing automated construction software.

Real-Time Monitoring

Avvir's solutions offer near real-time monitoring of construction progress. Real-time monitoring allows stakeholders to detect and address issues promptly, improving the likelihood that the project stays on schedule and within budget. Identifying issues early and intervening in a timely manner can minimize delays, prevent cost overruns, and maximize ROI.

Data-Driven Decision-Making

Avvir's AI-powered platform analyzes the collected data and generates actionable insights. These insights enable stakeholders to optimize resource allocation, streamline processes, and identify opportunities for cost savings, ultimately enhancing the project's ROI.

Streamlined Collaboration

Avvir's platform facilitates seamless collaboration among project teams, contractors, and stakeholders. By providing a centralized platform for reality capture analysis, Avvir ensures that everyone has access to accurate information, fostering better coordination and maximizing ROI.

Leveraging ROI Can Improve the Construction Process

Construction worker holding a tablet

Return on investment (ROI) serves as a crucial measure in the construction industry for assessing the profitability of investments. Construction stakeholders can make well-informed decisions and optimize resource allocation by grasping the elements that define a favorable ROI, knowing the calculation process, and recognizing its importance.

Avvir’s software allows stakeholders to maximize the ROI of their existing VDC assets through real-time data access. By leveraging Avvir's platform, construction projects can achieve improved accuracy, real-time monitoring, data-driven decision-making, and streamlined collaboration, ultimately leading to enhanced profitability and success.

Men showing construction tool to group
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