Construction industry witnesses record workload
03 November 2014
According to the RICS UK Construction Market Survey, private housing and private commercial construction activity fuelled a record workload in Q3 2014. It was, in fact, the highest recorded since 1994.
Even though the shortage of quantity surveyors continued to rise (57% of respondents highlighted this as an issue), industry workloads continued to make a strong recovery, with more surveyors (46%) seeing an increase in activity (up from a net balance of 41% in August). This marked the eighth successive quarterly increase in workloads.
Meanwhile, the private housing sector grew robustly across the whole of the UK, with London and the South East unsurprisingly seeing the strongest growth. Workloads also reached a series high in the private commercial sector, with a net balance of 59% more surveyors reporting a hike in activity.
Workloads in infrastructure, while still encouraging, witnessed much more balanced growth with 27% more surveyors seeing activity levels rise. In Northern Ireland, on the other hand, infrastructure and private industrial sector growth in Northern Ireland remained flat for the fourth consecutive quarter (0% net balance).
Across the length and breadth of the country, the main issues which were found to be hindering building activity were a shortage of labour, followed by access to finance and a shortage of materials (both a net balance of 58%). Demand for bricklayers went up considerably on the previous quarter, with 71% of respondents now saying that this is an issue (compared to just 59% in Q2 2014). Whilst planning and regulation were the fourth highest limiting factors (both with a net balance of 59%).
“Unprecedented housing demand, the bounce back from a very deep recession and the government's commitment to invest £36 billion in over 200 infrastructure projects is driving much-needed confidence across the industry, translating into UK workload sentiment now standing at its highest level in two decades,” Alan Muse, RICS Director of Built Environment, said of the data.
“Of course factors impacting construction activity, such as skill shortages and material shortages, must be addressed if we are to avoid capacity constraints and promote productivity and efficiency in the workplace, but it is equally important that the underlying framework for effective planning and delivery of projects is in place to ensure long-term construction growth that is evenly spread across the UK.”
He believes the government must now ensure that it builds on these foundations of confidence with the instruments to get house building and infrastructure projects out of the pipeline and into the ground. “RICS believes a National Infrastructure Delivery Plan and enforced local planning are among the measures it recommends to make this happen,” he concluded.