Scotland’s builders are continuing to report an increase in workloads, with enquiries rocketing compared to a very quiet beginning of the year, suggesting work next quarter will continue its positive trend, according to the latest State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Gordon Nelson, Scotland Director of the FMB, said: “While there are plenty of positives to take from this quarters survey, there are still worrying signs for house builders. Workloads are up, driven by high demands for repair, maintenance and improvement works and for some of Scotland’s local building companies, there are signs that the pressure on obtaining skilled labour is easing."

Nelson 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 consequences of this will impact skilled single trade firms including painters and decorators, stonemasons and roofers who are an integral part of the supply chain for house builders. House building will be a key component of growing the economy but the Government needs to take measures to shore up SME house builders who are ideally placed to build the high-quality energy efficient homes needed across urban and rural Scotland.”

Nelson concluded: “The survey also points towards other areas of concern, with just under half of members saying they expect profits to be lower than expected and around 1 in 5 saying they are restricting hiring new staff. With inflation dipping marginally, we’ll need to see over the coming months if this has any affect”.

The latest survey for Q2 2023 found:

 Scottish Market conditions

  • There has been a fall in the number of builders in Scotland reporting an increase in workload, but it remains a positive picture overall, with more reporting an increase than decrease.
  • The future of work looks very healthy with enquiries jumping up by 50%, compared to last quarter, where it stood at 0%.

The report also found across the UK:


  • 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.