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Fastest rise in enquiries for building work in over a decade

During the first three months of 2021, local building firms across the UK saw the fastest increase of enquiries in a decade, according to new data from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Scotland.

The latest FMB State of Trade Survey for 2021, the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK, also found that workloads and employment increased in the time from January to March 2021.

Activity across all sectors grew, but repair, maintenance and improvement saw the strongest performance with 55% of survey respondents reporting increased workloads.

However, this rapid increase presented much difficulty for workers as this increase fuelled construction material shortages.

Roof tiles, glazing products, timber and insulation are all under huge demand.

As building materials are not quickly available, 93% of builders said that material prices were rising. This is causing wide-spread concern as it is causing a detrimental effect on daily work.

There is also a huge shortage of skilled labour due to the current high demand. 38% of builders are struggling to hire bricklayers, up from 22% in Q4 2020; and 34% are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, up from 23% in Q4 2020.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of 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. However, success is not without its challenges.

“The worrying impact of these material price increases is that quality builders are at risk of being undercut by unscrupulous traders offering lower quotes to homeowners. Consumers must be aware that the cost of building works may change in the months ahead, as access to materials continues to cause a headache for 93% of Britain’s builders.”

“With the construction skills shortage slowly creeping back up the agenda, it’s clear that there is significant capacity in the sector to take on new entrants and create much-needed jobs.”

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