An increase in reported enquiries in many trades has not yet been converted to orders, but lead times are already creeping up in four areas compared with only one last quarter

01 / Going down

  • Suspended ceilings

02 / Staying level

  • Rotary piling
  • Precast piling
  • Concrete works
  • Cladding (natural materials)
  • Cladding (reconstituted stone)
  • Curtain walling
  • Metal panellised cladding
  • Atrium roofs
  • Profiled metal roof finishes
  • Facade cleaning equipment
  • Brickwork
  • Metal doors
  • Drylining
  • Demountable partitions
  • General joinery
  • Specialist joinery
  • Raised floors
  • Architectural metalwork
  • Decorative wall covering
  • Stone internal floor and wall finish
  • Non-standard passenger lifts
  • Escalators
  • Electrical packages
  • Mechanical packages
  • Ductwork
  • Controls
  • Boiler rooms
  • Air-conditioning
  • Uninterruptible power supplies
  • Switch gear
  • Generators
  • Data and voice cabling
  • Sprinklers

03 / Going up

  • Structural steel frames
  • Blockwork
  • Specialist joinery
  • Soft floor finishes

04 / Lead times summary

Despite a rise in enquiry levels in the last quarter, rotary piling lead times remain at five weeks. Precast piling has remained stable at five weeks for more than two years.

Concrete works lead times have remained at seven weeks. Contractors report more enquiries but do not anticipate any change in lead times over the next six months.

The lead time for structural steel frames is on the rise after a short fall last quarter. It is up by two weeks to 14 weeks. Contractors say they are busier but enquiries are the same.

Reconstituted stone cladding production capacity is keeping lead times at 21 weeks. Natural material cladding has been restated as 31 weeks due to improved data sample.

Curtain walling systems lead times have been restated as 31 weeks thanks to an improved data sample being received, while metal panellised cladding lead times remain at 27 weeks for the third quarter.

Atrium roof lead times have remained at 27 weeks for more than two years. More enquiries in profiled metal roof finishes in the last quarter have not resulted in more business, which has remained at 12 weeks for the past year. A steady decline in lead times for asphalt/membrane roof finishes over six months has stopped. Contractors say the reduced level of activity is enabling them to continue to offer six-week lead times.

Facade cleaning equipment lead times fell by three weeks to 30 weeks last quarter - and have remained at this level. Contractors say this lead time could fall further over the next three months if workload does not pick up.

Brickwork lead times remain at four weeks, but blockwork lead times are up a week to six weeks. Both trades are experiencing isolated cases of longer lead times as manufacturers produce to order.

Metal doors lead times remain stable at five weeks, as does drylining at eight.

Demountable partitions lead times remain at six weeks despite continuing high levels of enquiries - the lowest level since our records began in 1999.

General joinery lead times remain at 10 weeks though contractors expect an increase over the next six months. Specialist joinery has increased two weeks to 17 weeks because design approval is taking longer.

Raised floors lead times remain static at six weeks. A shortage of chipboard is forecast for the end of the year. Suspended ceilings have reduced by one week to 14 weeks.

Architectural metalwork lead times have remained static at 12 weeks, with longer lead times on some metal sections. Decorative wall coverings average lead-in has remained at four weeks for more than two years.

Internal stone floor and wall finishes lead times have stabilised at 23 weeks, while soft floor finishes are up one week for the third quarter in a row. They are now seven weeks.

Non-standard passenger lifts lead times remain at 26 weeks, although specialist lifts will be longer. No change was reported for escalators, which remain at 24 weeks.

Electrical package lead times have stabilised at 14 weeks, while mechanical packages have remained at 15 weeks for the past year.

Ductwork contractors have forecast rises for the past six months but despite more enquiries the lead time has stayed at eight weeks for more than a year. Controls have remained static at 15 weeks for a year.

Hard landscaping lead times remain at eight weeks and enquiries are quieter, while logistics services lead times have stabilised at five weeks.

Compared with the last quarter, when only one trade reported a small increase in lead times, this quarter there are four: structural steel frames, blockwork, bespoke joinery and soft floor finishes. Enquiries are not yet leading to orders, so availability of plant and labour is not reported to be an issue.

Data capture and analysis by Mace Business School, part of the Mace Group. For more details on the article and the contributors, please visit