Small, local builders, who are at the heart of our communities, are crying out for the UK Government to introduce measures to curb rogue traders and keep consumers safe.

In the most recent State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), an overwhelming 86% of respondents said now is the time to introduce mandatory licensing for building firms. With a focus on standards, licensing would professionalise the industry, remove rogue traders and help protect consumers.

37% of builders in Northern Ireland reported an increased workload in Q4 2021. However, this is down significantly on the 60% seeing a positive outlook in Q3. The new figures indicate a sharp slowdown in the number of enquiries over the same period with only 16% of builders who responded saying they are receiving increased interest from customers for new work, compared to 47% last quarter. This may reflect a cooling off of the market in the winter months, but could be suggestive of a longer-term trend.   

The FMB State of Trade Survey, which is released quarterly, is the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK. The latest survey for Q4 2021 found:


  • 86% of FMB members want the UK Government to introduce a mandatory licensing regime to help raise standards in the building industry.


  • Findings indicate 37% of builders in Northern Ireland have seen their workload increase since Q3 2021.
  • Findings indicate that 16% of builders in Northern Ireland are receiving more enquiries for work, compared to the previous quarter.


  • 43% of builders are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, down 4% on last quarter.
  • 41% of FMB members are finding it difficult to hire bricklayers, down 4% on last quarter.


  • Nearly all FMB members (95%) report an increase in material costs in Q4 2021.
  • 91% of respondents expect material costs to increase in Q1 2022.
  • 74% of builders have put up their prices for work.

Gavin McGuire, Director of FMB Northern Ireland, said: “After a promising 2021, these latest results from FMB NI members suggest that the handbrake seems to being pulled up, with drops in both workload and potential opportunities.”

McGuire continued: “Rising costs and some economic uncertainty have seen a previously strong pipeline of work start to dry up. We have seen unprecedented rises in costs for all essential materials including steel, timber, concrete, glazing and insulation, with 91% of those interviewed expressed the view that price increases would continue into 2022.”

McGuire concluded: “With uncertainty around energy prices and economic conditions affecting consumer confidence more than ever, the industry needs to see clear direction and strategic plans coming out of the current Energy and Housing Strategy programmes. Support for the resilience shown by the local industry to solve problems and keep a focus on quality service is essential in the year ahead.”

Notes to editors

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members’ interests at both the national and local level.

The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to raising quality in the construction industry and offers a free Find a Builder service to consumers.