Lead times remain extremely low across all trades, with any bottlenecks being absorbed by the pre-construction programmes of contractors eager to win work. Brian Moone of Mace reports

01 / GOING UP

Rotary piling

02 / STAYING LEVEL

Sprinklers
Pre-cast piling
Concrete works
Structural steel frames
Cladding (reconstituted stone)
Cladding (natural materials)
Metal panellised cladding
Curtain walling
Atrium roofs
Asphalt/membrane roof finishes
Profiled metal roof finishes
Facade cleaning equipment
Brickwork
Blockwork
Drylining
Metal doors
Demountable partitions
General joinery
Specialist joinery
Raised floors
Suspended ceilings
Architectural metalwork
Decorative wall covering
Internal stone floor and wall finish
Non-standard passenger lifts
Escalators
Electrical packages
Ductwork
Security systems
Controls
Logistics services
Soft floor finishes
Mechanical packages
Hard landscaping

03 / LEAD TIMES SUMMARY

Rotary piling lead times have increased by a further two weeks to eight weeks since last quarter. This supports the prediction in the previous report that the first and second quarter would see a peak in the London and South-east markets, owing to the demand for heavy-duty piling and diaphragm wall for major infrastructure projects.

Pre-cast piling has remained stable at five weeks since 2008 and contractors are reporting that workload is either the same or busier than the past six months. Concrete works remain at eight weeks for the second quarter in succession. Structural steel frames have remained constant since rising to 16 weeks a year ago.

There is no reported change in cladding - re-constituted stone, which has remained at 21 weeks since 2009. Cladding - natural material has remained at 28 weeks since the beginning of 2011. Contractors are busier than six months ago, but do not anticipate a rise in lead times. Cladding - metal panellised system lead times have remained at 27 weeks since the first quarter of 2010 and no change is forecast. Cladding - curtain walling system lead times have been revised to 43 weeks to reflect better data available from the sector.

Atrium roof lead times have remained stable at 27 weeks since the second quarter of 2008, with no change forecast. For roof finishes - asphalt/membrane, contractors have reported six-week lead times since the end of 2009, with no change forecast. Roof finishes - profiled metal have remained at 12 weeks since mid-2009. The forecast increase in facade cleaning equipment has not happened. Lead times remain at 38 weeks.

Brickwork lead times remain at five weeks. Most firms are reporting fewer enquiries than the last six months. Blockwork remains at six weeks. The lead time for metal doors is nine weeks. Demountable partitions have remained at six weeks since the end of 2009, with no change forecast in the next six months.

Drylining remains stable at eight weeks, with no change forecast in the next six months.

General joinery remains at 10 weeks, with no change in workload or enquiries forecast. Specialist joinery has stabilised at 19 weeks.

Raised floors remain static at six weeks with no change since 2007. Enquiry levels and workloads have increased. Suspended ceiling lead times remain at 16 weeks.

Architectural metalwork has been at 12 weeks for more than a year. Decorative wall covering remains at four weeks, although there has been an increase in design time.

Internal stone floor and wall finish lead times remain at 23 weeks, despite being busier with projects than six months ago. Soft floor finish lead times have remained at eight weeks since the end of 2010.

Passenger lift - non standard lead times remain at 26 weeks. No change is forecast. Escalator lead times have been restated at 21 weeks based on improved data. Workload and enquiries remain the same.

Electrical packages remain at 14 weeks. Workload has levelled off following the increase last quarter. Mechanical packages remain at 18 weeks.

Ductwork remains at eight weeks. The previously reported increase in workload and enquiries has levelled off. Sprinklers have stabilised at eight weeks, despite an increase in delivery times. Security systems have remained static at five weeks for more than two years, while controls have remained static at 15 weeks for more than a year.

Logistics services remain at five weeks, with no change forecast in the next six months.

The level of enquiries and workload is continuing to fall for most trades, with the optimism of six months ago fading. With the exception of the increase in bored piling lead times owing to the large civil engineering projects around London, lead times remain at rock bottom levels, with no increases forecast for the next six months at least.

Data capture and analysis by Mace Business School. For more details on the article and contributors, please visit www.macebusinessschool.co.uk/foresite