The construction industry will handle half of its business over the Internet by 2005, according to the findings of the Construction Products Association’s first e-commerce survey.

E-commerce has increased 10% across the board in the past 12 months, says the report, which was published in partnership with the Construction Industry Computing Association. Manufacturers lead the field, with an 18% rise in on-line transactions. Contractors showed least interest in on-line business, says the report.

The survey, published last Thursday, investigates the attitudes of manufacturers, merchants/ distributors, consultants and contractors to e-commerce.

Respondents said the main advantages of on-line purchasing were speed and reduced costs. The greatest disadvantage was the initial set-up cost. Despite the perceived benefits, there was some scepticism that the industry would seize the opportunities created by e-commerce. Nearly one in nine respondents felt that the industry’s reluctance to change would prevent the sector enjoying the full benefit of the technology.

Chief executive of the CPA, Michael Ankers, said the survey was commissioned to show how influential the construction industry felt e-commerce was likely to be. He said: “There are as many opportunities for industries like construction to become more competitive as there are for dot-coms.”

The CPA intends to repeat the survey on a yearly basis to coincide with National Construction Week.

The association is also holding a conference, in partnership with the Building Centre Trust, on 11 July, called E-Construction - A Business Imperative for the Industry.