Mixed Messages on Construction Industry Output

    New figures just released show that Northern Ireland’s construction industry output fell by almost 6% in the three months to June.

    According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, the total volume of construction output was 1.5% lower than the same period in 2018, driven down by an 11% decrease in housing, a 6% fall in repair and maintenance projects and a 2.8% drop in new contracts, but output may be on the rise again, as new figures show that overall the UK’s construction sector “unexpectedly” picked up speed in September.

    This was helped by a post-lockdown bounce in the housing market, according to new PMI data which has shown that the construction and trade sectors accelerated to 56.8 from 54.6 in August – well above the 50-point measure that separates expansion from contraction.

    Nationally representative research from Powered Now, a mobile-based billing, invoicing and quotation application which specialises in trades, has been tracking the productivity of tradespeople, along with the home improvement projects people have sought post-lockdown.

    In conjunction with the research from Powered Now, it should come as no surprise that construction generally in the UK is bouncing back so strongly.

    Key Statistics include:

    • 16% of tradespeople agree that the threat of a second wave of COVID has influenced them to commence work on home improvements sooner rather than later
    • 15% of tradespeople have seen their client demand increase post-COVID to their highest levels ever
    • 18% of householders are planning to commence home improvements after the COVID-19 lockdown
    • 33% of those were looking to commence a landscaping or gardening refurb, amounting to 3 million renovations
    • 26% who agreed have undergone decorations and painting work, equating to 2.1 million decoration jobs
    • 20% have employed a plumber to redo their bathrooms or kitchens, equalling 1.6 million refurbs

    Sector Growth

    Ben Dyer, CEO of Powered Now, has commented on the research and how this revival in business has caused a welcome increase in productivity and growth for the sector.

    “The jump in UK Construction PMI in September is incredibly encouraging news for the construction market. At Powered Now, we have certainly been experiencing continued demand for services fuelled by a record housing market. This is great news, and it just goes to show how important these sectors are when it comes to recovering from the problems caused by COVID-19.

    “The whole industry is still in catch up mode and there is sure to be fluctuations in this recovery, as seen by the slowdown in August. However, we are still seeing an upward trajectory of growth as UK construction, at least in the new build, renovation and maintenance space is operating close to capacity.

    “The winter months have also helped to spike demand with more people getting their homes ready for the cooler months, and we expect this to continue in the short term. Despite second wave concerns, our research has entirely confirmed that tradespeople and consumers alike are very much eager to sustain this growth, with traders being are motivated to work and commencing their work on home improvements even sooner. This is sure to help the sector bounce back even quicker as people will rush to hire a tradesperson for their desired work.”