Unsurprisingly, a weak economy has led to a reduced workload for many contractors, a few of whom are dropping lead times to a level not seen since 2003

01 / Staying level

  • Precast piling
  • Natural material cladding
  • Curtain walling
  • Metal panellised cladding
  • Atrium roofs
  • Profiled metal roof finishes
  • Asphalt and membrane roof finishes
  • Facade cleaning equipment
  • Brickwork
  • Blockwork
  • Metal doors
  • Drylining
  • General joinery
  • Specialist joinery
  • Raised floors
  • Suspended ceilings
  • Architectural metalwork
  • Decorative wall covering
  • Stone internal floor and wall finish
  • Soft floor finish
  • Non-standard passenger lifts
  • Escalators
  • Ductwork
  • Controls
  • Boiler rooms
  • Air conditioning
  • Uninterruptible power supplies
  • Switch gear
  • Generators
  • Data and voice cabling
  • Sprinklers

02 / Going down

  • Rotary piling
  • Concrete works
  • Structural steel frames
  • Cladding (reconstituted stone)
  • Demountable partitions
  • Electrical packages
  • Mechanical packages

03 / Lead times summary

Rotary piling lead times have dropped for the second quarter running, reducing by one week to five, a low that was last seen in 2003. This brings it in line with pre-cast piling which has remained stable at five weeks for a year.

Concrete works lead times have decreased by one week to 11 after a shortlived increase last quarter. Lead times for structural steel frames have dropped by one week to 15.

The lead times for reconstituted stone have reduced by one week to 21, the lowest it has been since our records began in 2002. Following the reduction in lead times of one day last quarter, natural material cladding has stabilised this quarter at 31 days.

Curtain walling system lead times remain at 43 weeks following a reduction of one week last quarter, and metal panels remain static with a lead-in of 36 weeks.

The average lead time for atrium roofs has remained stable at 27 weeks for the past year, although a slowdown has been reported. Profiled metal roofs’ lead times have remained stable at 13 weeks for the past year. Following a small drop last quarter, the lead time for asphalt and membrane roofs has now stabilised at eight weeks.

Facade cleaning equipment has risen steadily since 2005, but has now levelled off at 40 weeks, although a reduction is forecast over the next six months.

Brickwork lead times have stabilised at four weeks following the significant reduction last quarter; blockwork lead times have also stabilised after the fall in the previous quarter and remain at five weeks. Lead times for metal doors , having fallen over the past two quarters, have now stabilised at five weeks.

As forecast last quarter, there has been no change in lead times for drylining , which remain at eight weeks for the fourth quarter in succession. Also as forecast, lead times for demountable partitions have reduced by one week to seven and these have not dropped below eight weeks since 2003.

General joinery and specialist joinery lead times have remained static at 10 and 15 weeks, respectively. Raised floors remain static at six weeks with no change for more than a year. Suspended ceiling lead times have remained static at 15 weeks for a year.

Architectural metalwork lead times have remained stable at 12 weeks for more than a year. The average lead-in for decorative wall covering has remained at four weeks for two years – with no change forecast.

Internal stone floor and wall finish lead times have been at 24 weeks for a year and the soft floor finish lead time has remained at seven weeks for more than a year.

Non-standard passenger lift lead times have remained at 31 weeks. No change was reported for escalator lead times, which remain at 24 weeks.

Electrical packages lead times have reduced for the third quarter running, by one week to 16, a level last seen in 2004. Mechanical packages lead times have reduced by two weeks to 18 after remaining the same since the start of 2007.

Lead times for ductwork remain at eight weeks for the third quarter running. Lead times for controls have also remained stable at eight weeks for the past year although this is forecast to reduce in the next six months.

Boiler rooms and standard M&E plant and equipment remain largely unchanged including air-conditioning (14 weeks), uninterruptible power supply (16 weeks), switch gear generators (23 weeks), data and voice cabling and sprinklers (nine weeks).

The economic pressure on the industry is resulting in a reduced workload for most contractors and a few have dropped to their lowest since 2003. Despite the falling workload, many are reporting increased activity in the preconstruction phase as they increase the level of bidding to maintain turnover. Many companies have had to lay off staff, thereby reducing their capacity, which is masking some of the effects on lead times.