October 30, 2020

Home improvements underpinning construction recovery, says FMB

Strong levels of consumer demand for repair and maintenance works saw builders report a busy summer, according to a new survey released today by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Key findings from the FMB State of Trade Survey, the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) firms in the building industry, include:

– 1 in 2 builders (47%) reported increased workloads in the summer months;
– More than 2 in 5 (42%) predict higher workloads in the autumn;
– More than three quarters (78%) of builders said they expect material costs to increase over the next two months;
– Almost 1 in 5 (17%) SMEs is planning to increase the number of general labourers on site in the months ahead; and
– Almost 1 in 5 (16%) SMEs is planning to increase the number of specialist tradespeople on site.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Builders’ workloads bounced back in the summer, as pent up demand for home upgrades and more domestic space fuelled activity. However, builders in other sectors are struggling, especially those working on social new build housing and on public buildings. To sustain recovery in the private repair, maintenance and improvement sector a national energy efficiency retrofit strategy is needed that will not only generate thousands of new jobs across the country but also help the Government’s commitment to create a greener economy.”

Berry continued: “With a healthy proportion of builders forecasting higher workloads in the autumn months, and almost 1 in 5 looking to recruit, there is clearly a demand for new jobs in the industry. Young people taking their next steps after school should consider an apprenticeship in construction, and those seeking a career change will also find new opportunities.”

Berry concluded: “Expected increases in material prices are a concern as builders have been reporting skyrocketing prices for years now. As we lead up to Brexit, we need to ensure that the supply chain is in step and that builders can access the materials they need.”

Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, comments
“The rise in home upgrade projects is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a large proportion of the UK workforce working from home, this has clearly encouraged many people to take on renovation projects, be it to improve their living space or upgrading existing office and study spaces.

“I expect this trend to continue. With the country on the brink of a second lockdown, homeowners will no doubt be considering additional home upgrades to improve the condition of their properties.

“The challenge is ensuring they have the finance necessary to take on these upgrade projects. Banks have become stricter with their lending criteria at the moment, and this is resulting in applications taking longer to process. It is important that those considering a home improvement project in the coming months first ensure that they have the necessary finance in place, be it through engaging with mainstream, alternative loan providers or other means.”

A full copy of the report is available here: https://www.fmb.org.uk/media/57602/fmb_state_of_trade_q2_2020.pdf