The workload of small construction firms rose 20% from July to September despite recent housing slowdowns, according to a survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

It said small and medium-sized companies were staging “something of a recovery”, though the July to September period would usually show some growth.

The data came from the FMB’s third-quarter survey, in which half of builders were reported recruitment difficulties.

Scottish builders were worst affected, with 84% encountering problems. In the North-east the number was 67% and in the eastern region 63%. Northern Ireland was the best place to find workers, with 80% of builders saying they had no problems.

Carpenters and joiners were the most difficult trades to recruit.