Following on from our last blog, we take a look at the rise in new housing builds and the promise it shows for the construction industry in 2014.
Building work rose in the last quarter of 2013 and is expected to rise across the UK in 2014, according to the RICS Construction Market Survey. The survey reported that the construction industry has seen the biggest increase in workload in a decade, with an expected increase in new building projects of 5.2% and a rush to hire skilled workers.
Most of the work is expected to come from the private sector, with housing in particular making up a large chunk of the increase. There are also positive signs that infrastructure construction sector is also seeing its biggest rise in 7 years.
The increase is being felt across the country. This week, the BBC reported that the construction industry in Northern Ireland was undergoing an improvement, albeit from a very low base. Scotland has also seen an increase in house building and infrastructure work. Director of the RICS Scotland, Sarah Speirs, said “more homes are being built, the investment in infrastructure is being recognised and workloads for the next year look positive.”
Similarly, in Wales there has been an increase in the number of building projects being started and the general feeling amongst the construction industry there is well in line with what the RICS are saying. Director of the Institute of Directors in Wales, Robert Lloyd Griffiths said, “when you look at these types of survey … they are in an upward and more positive direction. It’s got to be excellent news for Wales and the building sector in particular.”
In fact, building work has increased by such a great amount, that many construction firms are complaining there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the jobs!
36% of those surveyed by the RICS felt that lack of labour was restricting building work. Bricklayers are apparently in short supply.
There is also a shortage of materials, with 40% of the surveyors surveyed saying that a lack of bricks other materials was halting progress on construction work.
Despite the challenges faced by the building industry, optimism remains high within the RICS. 73% of respondents claimed they were more optimistic about the construction industry, going into 2014, then they were this time last year.
RICS Director of Built Economy, Alan Muse, said the economy has turned a corner in recent months. “It would seem that the construction industry has followed suit and activity is up right across the country.”
“More homes are being built, infrastructure is being upgraded and each part of the UK, is benefiting from this more positive picture.”
The upturn in building work could not have come at a better time. Most experts agree that Britain is struggling to find homes to house it’s growing population. Most estimates claim that over 230,000 new homes need to be built to keep up with the demand.
Despite the problems the industry faces, it’s clear that the current optimism around construction is a welcome sign and one that will hopefully drive an economic recovery in 2014.