Structural equation modeling (SEM) is a versatile multivariate statistical technique, and applications have been increasing since its introduction in the 1980s. This paper provides a critical review of 84 articles involving the use of SEM to address construction related problems over the period 1998-2012 including, but not limited to, seven top construction research journals. After conducting a yearly publication trend analysis, it is found that SEM applications have been accelerating over time. However, there are inconsistencies in the various recorded applications and several recurring problems exist. The important issues that need to be considered are examined in research design, model development and model evaluation and are discussed in detail with reference to current applications. A particularly important issue concerns the construct validity. Relevant topics for efficient research design also include longitudinal or cross-sectional studies, mediation and moderation effects, sample size issues and software selection. A guideline framework is provided to help future researchers in construction SEM applications.