There has been a continued upward trend in the repair, maintenance, and improvement (RMI) building work in Q2 of this year, but house building lags behind, with more FMB members reporting lower workloads and enquiries than those reporting more, according to the latest State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “While there are plenty of positives to take from this quarter’s State of Trade Survey, there are still worrying signs for house builders. Workloads are up, driven by a strong repair, maintenance and improvement sector and encouragingly we’re also seeing pressure on obtaining skilled labour easing.”

Berry continued: “House building has been hit badly, despite a slight increase on last quarter more members are reporting less work than they are more, and enquiries continue to look bleak. The fall in house building is worrying because housing supply is a key component of a growing the economy and unlocking a mobile workforce. The Government needs to step up its efforts if its own ambition to build 300,000 each year is to be met because the figure is expected to be less than half than that this year. ”

Berry concluded: “The survey also points towards other areas of concern, with just under half of FMB members saying they expect profits to be lower than expected and around one in five saying they are restricting hiring new staff. With inflation dipping marginally, we’ll need to see over the coming months if this has any positive effects on bottom lines.”

The latest survey for Q2 2023 found:

Market conditions

  • Increase in total workload and enquires is primarily driven by a continued strong rebound in the repair, maintenance and improvement sector.
  • Overall, 40% of members reported an increase in workload, with only 18% reporting a reduction compared to last quarter.  
  • House building workloads and enquiries continue to struggle with more members reporting a decrease than increase. 


  • Overall, difficulty in recruitment is easing, however;
  • 38% of members are struggling to hire carpenters with 29% struggling to hire bricklayers.
  • A quarter of members can’t get hold of general labourers.
  • Over half of all members reports that jobs are delayed because they are struggling to hire skilled workers.

Impact of changes in prices and costs

  • 79% of members report that material costs increased in Q2 2023 with 72% expecting this to continue into the next quarter.
  • The impact of increased outgoings has led to 69% of members increasing the prices they charge, with just under half reporting that the business is on track to make a loss.
  • 19% report that they are restricting hiring new staff as a consequence of increased outgoings.

The FMB State of Trade Survey, which is released quarterly, is the longest running survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK.


The full survey results will be available from 00:01 Thursday 3 August at this link.

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.