The year-on-year costs of building materials and labour fell for the first time in 40 years in the third quarter of 2009, according to exclusive research for Building

Davis Langdon’s latest forecast shows the building cost index was down by 1.3% in the three months to 30 September compared with the same period last year as an industry pay freeze and falling material prices created a double whammy effect.

However, the trend of falling prices has generally been reversed over the past six months, with construction material prices actually showing a rise of 0.7% on March figures. Industry input costs are also beginning to rise in the final three months owing to higher fuel prices.

Changes in wage rates, recorded for the 12 months to April, varied from sector to sector. Crane drivers suffered the largest fall in pay, with a 16.3% decline to an average package of £516 per week.

Pipe fitters were the biggest earners, with average weekly pay of £623, followed by scaffolders at £569.

Wage rates were frozen for building and civil engineering, plumbers and heating and ventilating operatives, Davis Langdon said.