The UK construction industry has seen four quarters of consecutive growth for the first time since 2008, an industry survey has shown. Although that statistic in isolation is good news for construction companies, growth brings with it new concerns and challenges.
This quarter’s Construction Trade Survey, carried out by the Construction Products Association, found that all areas of the construction industry enjoyed improved prospects in the first quarter of 2014. As expected private housing led the way, with a small growth in commercial office and retail construction also recorded. Payment times also seem to be improving. For example, none of the respondents reported that they had to wait more than 90 days before being paid.
Despite this positive news, the trade survey has identified a number of fresh challenges that the faced by the construction industry, namely increased costs and a shortage in skilled labour. Nearly two-thirds of building contractors reported that they’d had trouble finding bricklayers for jobs in Q1, an increase from 41% in the previous quarter and 10% on this time last year. 28% of contractors had problems finding carpenters – a similar percentage to that reported in Q4 2013.
Nearly half of firms reported that tender prices rose in Q1 – a huge jump from 2% in Q4. However, four out of five contractors reported that their overall costs had risen this quarter. Nearly nine in ten said that they’d had to deal with rising material costs, and half found that labour costs had risen. With increasing cost pressures, firms should investigate new ways of job costing – perhaps with the help of specialist construction job costing software. Software solutions could identify problem areas and help firms take on jobs with higher returns. If this sounds of interest to you, give us a call to arrange a demo.