Entering 2018, the UK construction sector begins another potentially rocky year with more Brexit announcements on the horizon, as well as uncertain economic results and policy questions across a range of sectors from housing to infrastructure. At Lydon Contracting, we like to keep our finger on the pulse, so in this blog we’ll take a look at a couple of stand-out trends in construction that could be making headlines over the next year.
The industry as a whole begins 2018 as it ended 2017: gloomily. The latest Markit figures show professionals predicting growth over the next year at the lowest level since 2013, with 11% anticipating a reduction in activity. This reflects October’s CPA assessment, which predicted zero growth in 2018. The usual suspects are believed to be to blame: Brexit uncertainty and the weak pound delaying demand until more assurances of the UK’s future are provided. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is house building, which was boosted in the Autumn Statement and saw unexpectedly high growth.
The tragic events surrounding the Grenfell tower fire will be brought into sharp focus in 2018 when the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety is published in the spring. December’s interim report made a set of sweeping recommendations, which indicates that the final report may contain provisions for strengthening liability across the supply chain, accreditation of the building and its contractors, simplifying guidance and setting out clear roles and accountability. Any implementation of the measures included in the report is likely to be far-reaching for construction companies and facilities managers, and will take considerable time to unpick.
Thanks to action taken by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the 2017 Budget, housebuilding has been the standout success in the UK construction industry. A pledge to build 300,000 extra homes a year, cuts to stamp duty for first-time buyers and an extra £10bn for help-to-buy loans acted as a starting gun for housebuilders, who have taken on staff and materials at the fastest pace in two years over December. This indicates that 2018 will continue to be a good year for the trade, whilst other sectors such as commercial office building are still forecast to slow.
The Palace of Westminster
After years of delay, the decision on what is to be done about the crumbling Palace of Westminster (home to the UK’s Parliament) looks closer to being made – with MPs set to debate the issue in January. When it begins, it will become one of the UK’s single most valuable construction projects, with bills in the billions of pounds. It is expected that the government will file a motion in favour of its preferred option to decant or remain in situ during works, which will refurbish huge areas of the Palace from the 19th-century stonework to the miles of 20th-century electrics and building services. The project is expected to cost upwards of £3bn, and the next steps should be clarified over the coming year. This will determine not only the final costs of the project, but also likely contractors and the scope of the works to be carried out.
Lydon Contracting Ltd
Tel: 01327 811533