Construction data from Glenigan comes after EPC figures indicated drop off in housing build rates

The volume of residential construction work starting in April was 28% down on the previous year, despite experiencing a minor improvement against the previous quarter, according to data from building information provider Glenigan.

The firm said social housing construction starts also fell 13% in in the three months to April against the last quarter, while private housing starts showed signs of revival with 18% growth compared with Q1.

The residential build data came as it said the value of construction project starts overall in the quarter to April was 21% lower than a year ago, seasonally adjusted, and 1% lower than the preceding three months.

The firm’s May Construction Index said soaring labour and material costs was leading to unease among investors, delaying project starts across the UK.

The Glenigan data came amid the first signs of slowing housebuilding activity from official data last week, despite the continuing strength in the sales market.

Government data showing registrations of new domestic energy performance certifitcates, which are created when developers build new homes, last week showed that just 57,643 EPCS were issued in England in the first quarter of this year - a drop of 8% on the same quarter a year ago. The data shows that 238,502 EPCs were registered in the year to March 2022, down 6.5% on the pre-pandemic year to March 2020.


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The traditional spring uptick in project starts has not materialised

Meanwhile, Glenigan’s construction data showed that office projects experienced the greatest growth, increasing by 50% against the previous three months to stand 19% up on a year ago, but it was the only area to experience growth against both periods.

Hotel and leisure project starts experienced a value increase of 10% against the previous year, suggesting the sector is starting to recover from the pandemic – this despite a 30% decline on the strong burst of activity seen in Q1 of this year.

Retail construction starts were 4% down on the year before, but 13% up on the previous three months, while industrial starts fell on both counts, by 24% and 17%, respectively.

Infrastructure starts continued their steady decline, down 4% compared with the last quarter to stand 27% lower than a year ago.

Civil works were down 28% on last year, driven by poor performance in utilities.

Health, education, community and amenity construction-starts were also down against both the previous quarter and the previous year.

On a regional level, the North-east continued to be the UK’s strongest performing region, with a 44% increase in project-starts value against the previous quarter, 3% up on the same period last year.

Northern Ireland was the only other region to experience growth on the previous three months (+7) and year (34%).

The West Midlands rebounded from poor Q1, growing by nearly a third against the preceding quarter despite a 9% value decrease on the year before.

The East Midlands saw 1% growth on Q1, while in the North-west the value of project starts fell 18% against the previous three months and by a fifth compared with the same time last year.


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Work starting on-site in the South West (-41%), Yorkshire & the Humber (-39%) and Scotland (-30%) all remained distinctly behind statistics from the previous year.

Glenigan’s senior economist Rhys Gadsby said the traditional spring uptick had not materialised, with the UK continuing to feel the ramifications of the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.

“Despite a general reluctance to move consumer sector projects to site, there is evidence of bounce back in the residential sector, with private housing showing signs of improvement,” he said.

“Although external factors have continued to frustrate the industry, construction has consistently invented creative solutions to its problems, and I am confident that the UK will continue to forge a path through these global crises.”