The first three months of 2021 saw enquiries with local building firms 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).
The latest FMB State of Trade Q1 2021 report, which tracks 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
- 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
Brian Berry, chief executive at the FMB, said: “I am delighted to see the positive reports from builders across the UK that workloads, enquiries and employment are all firmly back in positive territory after a difficult year for business. In the first quarter of the FMB’s 80th year, it is particularly pleasing to see enquiries grow at their fastest rate in more than a decade. However, success is not without its challenges. A whopping 93% of builders reported material price increases in the period January to March, with particular concerns over accessing roof tiles, glazing products, timber and insulation.”