‘Building’s back’

bricks‘Building is back’; that’s the message from the managing director of one global construction agency, following the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Construction Industry Output data, which estimates that the monthly output of construction in December 2013 was 2% higher than November 2013.

When comparing the 2013 annual data with 2012, the output of the construction industry is estimated to have risen by 1.3% (£1.49 billion). During these 12 months new work increased 2.4% (£1.62 billion) although there was reportedly a slight decrease in repair and maintenance of 0.3% (£0.14 billion).

The estimated annual volume of construction output in 2013 of £112.6 billion is 3.9% greater than the level recorded during the economic downturn in 2009. However, construction output remains 12.2% below its peak of £128.2 billion recorded in 2007.

Despite a slow beginning to the year where construction output fell 1.0% in Q1, output grew steadily throughout the year and has produced three consecutive quarters of growth for the first time since Q3 2010.

Steve McGuckin, UK managing director of the global construction consultancy Turner & Townsend, commented: “2013 ended with a bang, not a whimper, after what began as mere movement turned into real momentum.

,”The first quarter’s modest decline was quickly forgotten as the construction industry went on to rack up three successive quarters of growth for the first time since 2010.

,”Such steady growth through 2013 has driven confidence back up to pre-crisis levels – and January’s purchasing managers survey clocked the highest levels of activity since August 2007.

,”Housebuilding has been the real engine of the industry’s resurgence – with private sector housebuilding in Q4 up 19% on the same time in 2012, and public sector housebuilding jumping by an even more impressive 22.6%.

,”But such strong growth is masking falls elsewhere – industrial sector construction shrank by 18.9% over the year. So for construction industry players who focus entirely on non-residential work, it is far from boom time yet.

,”The industry as a whole has long experience of riding out the peaks and troughs of the economic cycle. Now the good times are back its best firms are steadily rolling out their latent capacity to meet growing demand.

,”Rapid expansion after such a long lean period means some growing pains are inevitable, but with careful cost planning, the business risk associated with growth can be mitigated.

,”Construction has always been a barometer of wider economic sentiment, and it’s revealing that headhunters say they’re busy again as the industry’s big players seek to hire the best talent. And where senior level recruitment leads, more junior jobs will follow.

,”After such a strong end to 2013, the UK’s construction firms are entering 2014 with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.”

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