Market Monitor June 2021: Charting demand

Market Monitor June 2021: Charting demand

With a host of recent reports all indicating a sustained surge in construction activity, PBM focuses on the Q1 2021 survey from the Federation of Master Builders.

The latest FMB State of Trade Survey outlines the “fastest rise in enquiries for building work in more than 10 years” but also cautioned that builders are having to contend with price rises and material shortages. Workloads, enquiries and employment all grew in the period from January to March 2021, with activity increasing across all sectors.

Repair, maintenance and improvement saw the strongest performance, with 55% of respondents reporting increased workloads.

However, the FMB warns that 93% of builders said that material prices were rising and filling vacancies on site was becoming an issue — for example, 38% of respondents said they were struggling to hire bricklayers, up from 22% in Q4 2020, and 34% noted difficulties in hiring carpenters / joiners (up from 23% in Q4 2020).

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “I am delighted to see the positive reports from builders across the UK that workloads, enquiries and employment are all firmly back in positive territory after a difficult year for business. In the first quarter of the FMB’s 80th year, it is particularly pleasing to see enquiries grow at their fastest rate in more than a decade.

“However, success is not without its challenges. A whopping 93% of builders reported material price increases in the period January to March, with particular concerns over accessing roof tiles, glazing products, timber and insulation.”

Brian continued: “The worrying impact of these material price increases is that quality builders are at risk of being undercut by unscrupulous traders offering lower quotes to homeowners. Consumers must be aware that the cost of building works may change in the months ahead, as access to materials continues to cause a headache for 93% of Britain’s builders.”

He concluded: “With the construction skills shortage slowly creeping back up the agenda, it’s clear that there is significant capacity in the sector to take on new entrants and create much-needed jobs. I am bitterly disappointed over the decision to cancel the Green Homes Grant scheme, which offered an opportunity to not only bring more people into construction but also to tackle climate change. The Government’s answer to this must be a long-term National Retrofit Strategy, that has the backing of industry from the outset.”

To read the full FMB State of Trade Q1 2021 report, go to:

In addition to the FMB’s latest State of Trade survey, numerous other reports from various corners of the industry confirm the ongoing positive performance of the sector. To take a look at some of the most recent data and forecasts, use the links below:

Plumbing & Heating Merchants Index   

Builders Merchant Building Index  

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Construction Products Association

This article can be found in the June 2021 issue of PBM.

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