The first three months of 2021 saw enquiries with local building firms across the UK increase at their fastest rate in a decade, fuelling significant difficulties with construction material shortages, according to new data from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Northern Ireland (NI).
The latest FMB State of Trade Survey for Q1 2021, the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK, found:
- Workloads, enquiries and employment all grew in the period January to March 2021, with enquiries growing at their fastest pace in more than 10 years
- Activity in all sectors grew, but repair, maintenance and improvement saw the strongest performance with 55% of respondents reporting increased workloads
- Findings indicate that workloads in NI rebounded strongly into growth following a period of sluggishness in Q4 2020
- They also indicate that enquiries with NI builders grew at a faster pace than in Q4 2020
- 38% of builders are struggling to hire bricklayers, up from 22% in Q4 2020
- 34% are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, up from 23% in Q4 2020
- 93% of builders said that material prices were rising
Gavin McGuire, Director of FMB Northern Ireland, said: “I am delighted that builders in Northern Ireland are reporting strong growth in workloads and enquiries, following a difficult year for business. In the first quarter of the FMB’s 80th year, it is particularly pleasing to see enquiries across the UK grow at their fastest rate in more than a decade. However, this recovery risks being hindered by a shortage of construction products, as 93% of builders reported material price increases in the first quarter of the year.”
McGuire concluded: “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.”
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.