Finished on a firmer footing

Construction starts in the final three months of 2017 were 1% ahead of a year earlier, according to Glenigan.

Residential starts were 2% higher, due to a pick-up in private housing activity, which more than offset the impact of fewer social housing projects.

Non-residential project starts were 2% lower than during the same period in 2016 as a declines in office and health projects outweighed increases in education, retail and industrial work.

The value of work starting on site in the three months to December was 1% up on the same period a year earlier, according to the latest Glenigan Index. On a seasonally adjusted basis, starts were 3% higher than during the third quarter of last year.

Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s economics director, said: “The industry finished 2017 on a firmer footing according to the latest Glenigan Index data for project starts.”

He continued “An improvement in the private housing sector during the closing months of last year has been an important driver behind the rise in construction project starts; previously, weak private residential projects starts had been a particular drag on overall starts since the summer.

“Private residential starts were 10% higher than during the same period last year. In contrast, social housing starts have continued to slip back, being 21% down on the third quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis and 16% lower than a year ago.

“Overall non-residential projects were 2% lower than a year ago and 5% down on the third quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis. The year-on-year decline is attributable to a 22% drop in office project starts and persistent weakness in public sector funded areas such as health, and community and amenity projects.
“However, industrial projects starts were 17% up on a weak performance a year ago, while education starts increased 6% and retail starts were up 44% on a year ago.”