Subdued construction output reported, with falls in new orders

The ONS report Construction output fell by 3.4% during the three-month on three-month period to April 2018, the biggest fall seen since August 2012. This was mainly driven by falls in both repair and maintenance and new work. Despite this the April RIBA Architects’ Future Trends Workload Index shows a rise at +13, up from +6 in March. With all four sector forecasts moving up, with the private housing sector workload forecast the most positive, rising to +16 in April 2018 from +11 in March

The ONS also report new orders in construction fell in Q1 2018 by 4.6%. Driven by a continued fall in all other new work (non-residential) of 13.4% in Quarter 1 2018, with large falls in infrastructure and private commercial new orders. The May Economic & Construction Market Review from Barbour ABI  shows the value of new construction contracts awarded in April 2018 to be £4.9bn, based on a 3 month rolling average. This is a decrease of 6.8% compared to March, and 9.0% lower than April 2017. The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI May 2018 also reports subdued growth. The Index registered 52.5 in May, unchanged since April, with new business growth slipping back into decline, amid Brexit uncertainty.

The construction material price index for all work increased 4.6% in the year to April 2018, compared to a year ago. Construction material prices for new housing, other new work and repair and maintenance rose 5.0%, 4.6% and 5.5%, respectively, compared to a year ago.

NHBC figures show 7,634 new homes were registered in the private sector in April 2018 (9,350 in 2017), with 3,582 registered in the affordable sector (3,298 in 2017). April 2017 saw a total of 12,648 new home registrations

The ONS report, the number of residential property transactions increased by 3.5% in April 2018 when compared to March 2018. Yet this is 2.7% lower than the same time last year. UK Finance report the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase decreased 9.4% year-on-year in April, the seventh consecutive month of annual decline, despite an increase of 1.2% on a monthly basis. The value of these loans also decreased 6.9% from a year earlier but rose 1.6% month-on-month.

The Halifax House Price Index reports that in May 2018 house prices were 1.5% higher than April. Yet the Nationwide House Price Index reports that in May 2018 house prices fell 0.2% compared to April. Halifax report a softening of annual house price growth to 1.9% in May from the 2.2% increase recorded in April. Nationwide also show a slowing in annual house price growth of 2.4% in May, down from 2.6% in April, as a shift in housing stock turns to private renting and flats.

Despite this Bovis Homes have released an AGM trading statement saying that they continue to see good levels of demand for new homes across all their operating regions, as sales for the year are in line with expectations and underlying pricing remaining firm.

The Housing Forum has published a report: Stopping Building Failures. The purpose of this report is to provide guidance and recommendations that could prevent poor quality and failure in new and refurbished homes. It sets out 14 recommendations grouped into three broad headings; ‘Procuring for Quality’, ‘Harnessing Innovation’ and ‘Building Defect-free Homes’. This represents an opportunity for building product manufacturers to provide information to support decisions based around value and to introduce innovation into the construction process.

NHBC Foundation has published a new report Futurology: the new home in 2050 which looks forward to the significant advances in design and technology we can expect to see in the homes of the future. For those who supply the residential sector this could provide a useful direction for new product development.

Microsoft and RIBA have published a joint report into digital technology trends being used by architects. The survey of 300 industry professionals found that 79% expected digital technologies to lead to greater efficiencies and 35% employ some form of mixed, augmented or virtual reality, with many more hoping to expand their use of immersive technology in the near future.

And finally, to promote the BSI Kitemark for BIM Objects, BSI have produced a useful and easy to read reference document the “Little Book of BIM for Manufacturers” which sets out the basic structure of the BIM journey and explains the various standards, acronyms and definitions.

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