Eighty-six per cent of projects are delayed by utilities, leading to a financial loss in 41% of cases, according to a new contractors survey.

Electricity was the most frequent offender, with 64% of respondents claiming they had experienced problems in this area. Telecoms were the least problematic.

Contractors said the hold-ups stemmed from poor communications, delays in obtaining quotations and utility companies failing to stick to agreed timetables.

Stephen Morris, north-west regional chairman at the National Federation of Builders, which carried out the survey, said most respondents felt that water, gas and electricity services had made no improvements over the past year.