Construction Industry (Bauwirtschaft, in Austria covering all activities of the building and ancillary trades). Up to the 19th century, craftsmen (master builders, bricklayers and carpenters) were the main players in the building trade, and there were only few big construction firms. The army was frequently employed in the construction of roads, fortifications, etc. Big building firms grew only with the construction of railways and industrial sites, residential building continued to be dominated by the building trade.
The construction of the road and railway systems stagnated in the time between the two World Wars. Only a few projects were carried out in order to create jobs (e.g. the Grossglockner-Hochalpenstrasse, Hoehenstrasse scenic road and Reichsbruecke bridge in Vienna). In Vienna, as in other cities, major communal structures were built. Large-scale projects were started after Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 (hydroelectric power stations, motorways, industrial sites) and were only completed after the end of World War II.
The need for rapid reconstruction led to emphasis on merely functional aspects, often without consideration of environmental and aesthetic/architectural principles. Attitudes in construction changed in the middle of the 1970s. Environmental and aesthetic concerns were increasingly respected, and materials such as wood, brick and natural stone were more frequently used. Big construction firms experienced a boom never seen before, which was due to the application of new methods (prestressed concrete engineering, use of prefabricated compound units, etc.) and major innovations such as the Austrian tunnel driving method that were exemplary in the whole world.
Private home building was advanced through the capital created by means of savings agreements with home savings banks. Austrian construction enterprises are enjoying a good international reputation and have therefore also been able to expand their activities abroad.
In 1995, the Austrian construction industry contributed some ATS 176 bn to the GDP (approximately 8 %).
Bau Holding AG, ERA-Bau AG, Maculan Holding AG, Mayreder, Kraus & Co Bauholdingges. m. b. H., Porr, Allgemeine Baugesellschaft A. Porr AG, STRABAG Oesterreich AG, TEERAG ASDAG, Universale Baugesellschaft AG, Wiener Betriebs- und Baugesellschaft m. b. H., WIBEBA.