Housebuilding also showing signs of recovery despite lingering materials and skills shortages

The first three months of this year saw a significant rebound in domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) work, a poll of Federation of Master Builders (FMB) members has found.

The body’s State of Trade survey of its 8,000 members for the first quarter of 2023 found RMI enquiries had grown by 14% on the previous quarter.

Brian Berry, the FMB’s chief executive, said the figures showed there were signs the building industry was “starting to move in the right direction”.


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RMI work is on the rise thanks to homeowners doing up their homes

“The rebound in domestic building work at the start of this year compared with the pessimistic forecasts towards the end of last year is an encouraging sign that parts of the building industry are bouncing back,” he said.

“It’s a positive sign for the overall economy that homeowners are continuing to invest in their homes.”

The survey also found signs of a recovery in house building work after a slump last year, although more respondents still reported falling workloads than those who said their work was growing.

The number of firms which said their house building work was growing stood at -4%, up from -18% reported in the last three months of 2022.

But the survey also highlighted underlying pressures on building firms. Almost nine in ten FMB members said they were still seeing increases in material costs, while one in three said they were struggling to recruit carpenters, bricklayers and labourers.

Nearly half, 45%, of respondents also said their profits were lower than expected in the first quarter despite three quarters saying they were increasing the prices they charged for work.