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Construction activity grows for the seventh consecutive quarter

Construction activity increased in Q4 2014, marking the seventh consecutive quarter of growth for the industry.

According to the Construction Products Association’s trade survey, 44 per cent of contractors saw an upturn in work during Q4 2014 compared to a year earlier.

This was slightly lower than Q3 2014, when 66 per cent of contractors saw growth in activity.

Private sector housing experienced the highest growth during the quarter, with 53 per cent of firms reporting a rise in output. As well as private housing, private commercial saw an upturn, with 40 per cent of firms reporting a rise in volumes for offices and retail work.

Seventeen per cent of SMEs reported a rise in workload during Q4 2014, down from 35 per cent in Q3, while 52 per cent of civil engineers reported an increase in activity during Q4, down from 60 per cent in the previous quarter - marking the sixth consecutive quarter of growth for civil engineering firms.

Orders for private housing and private commercial rose during Q4, with 12 per cent of contractors reporting a growing order book for private housing and 9 per cent reporting a rise in commercial work.

A further 16 per cent of contractors reported growth in new orders for public non-housing projects.

During Q4, 75 per cent of contractors said that their costs had increased compared to the previous quarter.

This followed 77 per cent of contractors reporting cost rises in Q1 2014, 80 per cent in Q2 and 76 per cent in Q3.

Overall, no contractors reported falling costs during Q3 and Q4.

Commenting on the data, Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, said:

“Looking forward, contractors expect continued strength in private housing and commercial this year, boosted by public non-housing as a stream of work on the Priority School Building Programme gets underway. 

“Outside of these sectors, however, order books weakened in Q4, suggesting a moderation in growth in 2015. 

“SMEs in particular reported a noticeable slowdown in new enquiries in Q4.

“In addition, only product manufacturers felt the effects of falling oil prices in Q4. 

“Contractors, SMEs and civil engineers continued to report elevated costs, which implies any gains from a wider slowdown in inflation are yet to filter down the supply chain.”

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