Brexit-related delays experienced

Building design professionals are already feeling the impact of the Brexit vote, with almost two thirds (60%) of architects and building specifiers experiencing delays to projects as a result, according to a new report released in December 2016.

The survey of 100 senior architects and building specifiers from across the UK, commissioned by glass manufacturer Pilkington UK, revealed the industry is divided on its view of the long-term impact of the EU Referendum result.

Nearly half (45%) of respondents anticipate that Brexit will have a negative effect on foreign investors’ appetite for UK construction projects, with less than one in three (29%) believing the referendum result will increase foreign investment into domestic developments.

Views on the overall outlook for the industry were equally uncertain. When asked whether they believed Brexit would slow the rate of construction over the next five years, a third of respondents (34%) said yes, while half (47%) disagreed. 

Despite the uncertainty, architects and building specifiers are bullish about their growth prospects, forecasting an average growth of 14% over the next two years.

A fifth (20%) of specifiers and one in ten architects (8%) are predicting growth of more than 20% during the same period. 

The sectors mentioned as having the most opportunity for growth were large-scale residential, commercial office and small residential developments, followed by industrial and hospitality and leisure schemes.

The positive outlook of building design professionals is backed up by healthy levels of forecast investment in research and development. On average, respondents are planning to invest 10% of revenue in it over the next two years.

The majority of architects and specifiers gave their seal of approval to current building regulations, with almost two thirds (63%) saying they feel existing regulations are fit for purpose.

When asked how frequently clients ask for buildings to be designed above and beyond current building regulations and codes, more than two thirds (67%) said this happens either frequently or very frequently. 

When asked about the challenges faced when designing or specifying for nearly-zero-energy buildings – which the UK is committed to achieving on all new builds from 2021 – 56% said a lack of government incentives is a barrier. Just 17% called-out cost as something holding them back in this area. 

Phil Savage, commercial contracts sales manager at Pilkington said: “Clearly, uncertainty following the decision to leave the EU is causing clients to tread carefully in term of their investments in the UK built environment.

“But it’s heartening to see that many professionals aren’t predicting doom and gloom but are, in fact, bullish about the outlook over the next two years. 

“Architects and specifiers are towards the beginning of the supply chain, and the health of their businesses can be a bellwether for the wider building industry – so fingers crossed we are seeing the early signs of an upturn in UK construction.”