Although lead times remain overwhelmingly stable, growth in tower construction in London will affect capacity in steel fabrication, vertical transportation and cladding.

01 / Going up


02 / Staying level

Pre-cast piling
Concrete works
Structural steel frames
Rotary piling
Cladding (reconstituted stone)
Cladding (natural materials)
Metal panellised cladding
Curtain walling
Atrium roofs
Asphalt/membrane roof finishes
Profiled metal roof finishes
Facade cleaning equipment
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
Electrical packages
Security systems
Logistics services
Soft floor finishes
Mechanical packages
Hard landscaping

03 / Lead times summary

Since the last report at the beginning of July, rotary piling has remained at six weeks, although work is increasing and tower construction in London is expected to take up capacity (see Spotlight). Pre-cast piling has stayed at five weeks since 2008 and contractors report that workload is the same or quieter, leading to opportunities to improve on this lead time.

There has been no reported movement in concrete works lead times, which remain at seven weeks although contractors anticipate increased enquiries will result in lead times extending in the next six months. Structural steel frames lead times remain at 16 weeks for the second quarter in succession.

Cladding - reconstituted stone has remained at 21 weeks since 2009; cladding - natural material lead times have remained at 28 weeks since the beginning of 2011; and cladding - metal panellised system at 27 weeks for Q1 2010, with no change forecast by contractors. Cladding - curtain walling system lead times have remained 31 weeks since the middle of 2010.

Atrium roof lead times have remained stable at 27 weeks since Q2 2008 with no change forecast. For roof finishes, asphalt/membrane contractors have continued to report six-week lead times since the end of 2009, while profiled metal has remained at 12 weeks since mid 2009. Workload and enquiries are up.

Facade cleaning equipment remains at 37 weeks, although an increase is expected in the next six months as markets improve globally and in London and the south east.

Brickwork lead times have increased by one week to five weeks. Kiln closures have had an effect on specific brick types. Blockwork remains at six weeks despite reported increase in workload and delays in the supply of blocks, but is expected to increase over the next six months.

Metal doors remain at nine weeks and drylining at eight weeks. Demountable partitions lead times have remained level at six weeks since the end of 2009. General joinery stays at 10 weeks, a position it has held since mid 2008. Specialist joinery remains at 18 weeks following the increase last quarter.

Raised floors remain static at six weeks with no change since 2007 and no change forecast. Suspended ceiling lead times remain at 16 weeks.

Architectural metalwork lead times have been static at 12 weeks for more than a year, and decorative wall covering at four weeks for more than two years with no change forecast. Internal stone floor and wall finish lead times stay at 23 weeks and soft floor finish lead times have stabilised at eight weeks. Passenger lift - non standard lead times remain at 26 weeks, and escalators at 24 weeks.

Electrical package lead times has been 14 weeks since mid 2009; mechanical packages has remained at 18 weeks since the middle of 2010. Ductwork is at eight weeks; enquiries are down but workload up.

Sprinklers lead times have stabilised at eight weeks following last quarter’s reduction due to improved mobilisation time. No change is forecast in the next six months.

Security systems lead times have remained at five weeks for over two years and controls at 15 weeks and hard landscaping at eight weeks for over a year. Logistics services remains at five weeks with no change forecast in the next six months.

Contractors continue to report high levels of enquiries and the number reporting an upturn in workload has increased. The only change is that brickwork has increased its lead time by one week. Only one trade highlighted the impact of London 2012 Olympics on their lead times next year, which indicates that specialist contractors are not yet considering the impact this could have.

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