RIBA Future Trends surveys shows UK-wide confidence maintained
Architects are becoming increasingly confident about picking up work in the public sector, despite the government’s ongoing austerity programme, according to the RIBA’s latest market survey.
Public sector work has been in the doldrums following the austerity measures introduced by the government when it came to power in 2010, but in the RIBA’s latest Future Trends survey, its director of practice Adrian Dobson said there was rising optimism, with a balance of 5% more architects expecting public sector workloads to increase rather than fall.
“Although the private housing and commercial sectors clearly offer the best current prospects, there is a sense of greater stability in public sector workloads, with larger practices in particular becoming more optimistic about a more predictable pipeline of public sector construction expenditure, and modest signs of increasing activity in the community sector,” he said.
The latest survey found private sector housing – with a balance of +30 - has been joined by commercial – with a balance of +19 - in leading the recovery for the profession.
The overall workload index stood at +29 in September, up slightly from the +28 recorded the previous month.
The survey said that all regions were optimistic about the next three months.
But Dobson warned: “There remains significant competitive pressure on fees and whilst aggregate turnover is rising, profit margins on projects often remain very tight.”
The number of architects signing on last month was 235 – a 2% rise on August’s figure of 230.
US BILLINGS RECOVER
Architects’ workloads in the US recovered last month after falling from a seven year high earlier this summer.
The score in September was 55.2, up from 53, which itself was down from the seven year record of 55.8 that was posted in July. A reading above 50 indicates an increase in billings.
The new projects inquiry index was 64.8, rising from 62.6 in August, according to the figures released by the American Institute of Architects.
And the recently launched indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms remained broadly stable at 56.8, down slightly from the 56.9 recorded in September.
AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said credit from lending institutions was helping fuel growth outside the residential market which has long been underpinning the recovery.
“There continues to be a healthy market for those types of [residential] design projects but the recently resurgent Institutional sector is leading to broader growth for the entire construction industry,” he added.
All areas of the country were in positive territory with the West, Northeast and Midwest all recording consecutive months of growth.