Builders’ workloads are at their highest levels for ten years according to the latest survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The rise in workloads in Wales is, however, being matched by steep increases in material prices and a growing struggle to secure labour, especially carpenters and bricklayers. This is causing a perfect storm for future building work.

The latest FMB State of Trade Survey, the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK, found:

Activity

  • Workloads, enquiries and employment all grew in the period April to June 2021, with workload and enquiry levels at their highest point for a decade
  • Findings indicate that Wales is bouncing back more strongly than other UK nations, with 76% of respondents reporting higher workloads, compared to last quarter

Employment

  • 53% of builders are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, up from 23% six months ago.
  • 47% are struggling to hire bricklayers, up from 22% in Q4 2020.

Prices and costs

  • 98% of builders are facing material price rises, with the same number expecting this to continue into Q3 2021.
  • 80% of respondents have been forced to raise their prices in the past quarter.

Ifan Glyn, Director of FMB Cymru, said: “It is fantastic to see such high levels of activity for local building firms in Wales, with 76% of those surveyed reporting higher workloads during the second quarter of 2021, compared to the first.”

Glyn concluded: “To maintain this momentum, both industry and the Welsh Government must continue to work together to alleviate the intense pressures caused by material and skills shortages. As part of the Wales Construction Federation Alliance, the FMB has written an open letter to the First Minister detailing these acute shortages and the detrimental impact they are having on firms’ ability to deliver construction projects throughout Wales.”