British house building looks as strong as ever

“Despite some notable headwinds, British house building looks set to continue its growth run”

 UK building didn’t have the greatest start to the year: uncertainty over Brexit continues to squeeze some markets, and the “Beast from the East” took a £1 billion bite out of the industry. However, it’s a testament to the strength of the sector that – despite these headwinds – it looks set for further growth.

After several years of growth, the general consensus seems to be that the UK house building construction market is so strong that a lackluster first quarter won’t hold it back. This market might not be in fifth gear yet this year, but it’s moving towards it. At least, that’s what the construction outlook from the CPA and other construction bodies suggests.

Last year saw strong gains for house building: According to the National House Building Council, registered plans to start building rose by 6% from the previous year to a 10-year record high of 160,606, with completions ahead 4% reaching 147,278 – that’s the highest it’s been since 2008!

The Home Builders Federation also had some good news for prospective house builders, noting that 2017 saw a 21% rise in planning permissions to 351,169. According to the Federation’s executive chairman, Stewart Baseley, this points to “a clear demonstration of industry commitment to ramping up housing supply even further than the unprecedented increases of the last four years.”

The CPA said that 22% of main contractors and 33% of specialists saw higher output over the year. This doesn’t change the fact that home building is facing difficulties from some areas, but it goes a long way to reassuring builders that demand is high, and there is every reason to be positive.

CPA economics director Noble Francis said that infrastructure and private house building would be areas to watch in the coming year:

“These are now the bright spots for UK construction. Questions remain about government delivery of major infrastructure, and Carillion’s liquidation will contribute to a 5% fall in PFI health projects this year. But infrastructure overall is expected to grow 6.4% and 13.1% next year as main civil engineering starts on HS2, the Thames Tideway Tunnel and Hinkley Point C. Private housing stats are expected to rise 2% this year and next as Help to Buy sustains new build demand.”