March is likely to go down as one of the best ever months for UK construction, according to early economic indicators.
City sources predict materials companies’ sales figures for March will be the best in over a year, despite February being relatively slow. The improved performance coincides with growth in the housing and commercial sectors.
One beneficiary of the active market is likely to be Travis Perkins, the UK’s second largest builders’ merchant. The firm said it had had a very encouraging start to the year, and that March was “especially positive”. It said: “2006 was a period of slow and steady recovery in the DIY and trade market, and we are now seeing that pick up.”
The company said that it expected the market to build further in the first half of the year, although it was more cautious about the second owing to the impact of higher interest rates.
News of the materials sales increases come after property agency Savills said its index of UK commercial development rose to a three-year high in March. Savills said its commercial property index rose to 66.2, its highest level since March 2004.
Barbour Index figures show this strength was even greater elsewhere, particularly with new work in the public and housing sectors.
Meanwhile, Rightmove, the property website, said that asking prices for houses had risen at their fastest pace for five years. Rightmove said the average house value rose £8,300 in the past month, a growth of 3.6%.