RMI experiences rebound in Q1 but builders still struggling, survey reports

Credit: AdobeStock / sculpies

Repair, maintenance, and improvement (RMI) building work experienced a rebound in Q1 of 2023, with reported workloads and enquiries up by 12% and 14% respectively compared to Q4 2022, the latest State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has revealed.

However, the survey also found that 87% of FMB members reported an increase in material costs. This is followed by three quarters of FMB members reporting an increase in the prices they charge for work. However, 45% of members reported that business profits were lower than expected this quarter.

Furthermore, the house building sector is continuing to struggle with more reporting a decline in workload than those seeing more work (-4%). However, this has improved on last quarter, where it was -18%.

At least one in three FMB members reported that they are struggling to recruit carpenters/joiners, bricklayers and general labourers, while reporting an overall net decrease in employment levels in Q1 2023 (-3%).

Commenting on the findings, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The rebound in domestic building work at the start of this year from the pessimistic forecasts towards the end of last year is an encouraging sign that parts of the building industry are bouncing back. It’s a positive sign for the overall economy that homeowners are continuing to invest in their homes.

“Despite the good news for domestic building work, it is very concerning that house building is still in negative figures, despite a slight increase in reported workloads. Given there is a growing housing crisis, the fact we are building fewer and not more homes is a worrying sign for consumers, builders and the government alike.

“The FMB’s survey also shows the effect inflation is having on SME building companies resulting in them having to raise their prices in order to stay afloat and with 10% of FMB member companies potentially at risk of closure. We are far from having certainty in the building industry but at least there are some signs that we are starting to move in the right direction.”

No posts to display