“OK October” says Builders’ Conference

The level of construction contract awards in October saw a significant month-on-month downshift. But Builders’ Conference CEO Neil Edwards says this was entirely predictable. And despite imminent and unprecedented cement price rises, he remains positive for a flying start to 2022.

According to both the bible and 60s pop band The Byrds, “for everything, there is a season”. Nowhere is this truer than in the field of construction. Groundworks, paving and dust suppression equipment sales are condensed into the months with the best weather. The month of August is traditionally a quiet period for construction as half the industry heads for sunnier climes. And the lead up to the Christmas and New Year festivities almost always mark a gradual yet predictable downturn.

And so, while the figures for October 2021 – a month that also included the half term school holidays – showed a small month-on-month decline, that decline was inevitable.

The BCLive league table ended the month with a figure of £4.74 billion, way above the established £4.0 billion benchmark but also way down on the £7.5 billion recorded in September.

Soaring to the top of the BCLive league table while simultaneously reconfirming the importance of the house building sector was Berkeley Group which won a single £380 million contract award to secure the top slot. That contract will see the construction of an undisclosed number of dwellings at a site at Malt Street in London’s Bermondsey.

A pair of new build housing projects also propelled J Reddington into second place on the BCLive league table. The larger of the two is a £160 million mixed use development for client One Heritage at Greengate and New Bridge Street in Manchester. Located close to the city’s Victoria Station, the development will include 545 flats together with a library and a gym.

The second of J Reddington’s big wins was a £150 million new build of 506 dwellings at a site on Sackville Road in Hove. The scheme will also include co-working spaces and public gardens.

Away from the house-building arena, the health sector saw a welcome boost with a £210 million new build at the science campus at Birmingham’s Health Innovation Campus. Won by John Sisk & Son, that project will involve the creation of a seven storey laboratory and office building as part of the University of Birmingham’s Precision Health Technologies Accelerator programme.

BAM took the fourth position on the BCLive league table for the month, courtesy of three contract awards valued at a combined £252 million. The largest of these is the £220 million expansion of Sheffield Hallam University and is part of a 10-year campus masterplan that also includes public realms and green spaces.

Morgan Sindall picked up five new contract awards worth a combined £187 million during the month to clinch the number five position. Meanwhile, Kier Group secured the highest number of new contract awards – 16 – for an October haul valued at a combined £72 million.

London, predictably, took the number one slot on the regional run-down, reporting 81 new projects valued at just over £1.62 billion. Equally predictably, housing retained its crown as the leading sector, delivering 127 projects valued at more than £2.2 billion. However, education also enjoyed an upbeat month, reporting 54 projects valued at more than £730 million.

Most of the new contract awards announced in October 2021 will be unlikely to start work until the New Year, which will provide the industry with an excellent workload platform from which to build 2022.

There are threats, of course. The skills shortage has not gone away, materials remain in short supply and cement prices are scheduled to rise before the end of the year. The removal of the red diesel tax rebate now looms large on the industry’s horizon and is just one of many environmentally-based issues that could impact negatively on the wider sector.

But, for now, the industry is precisely where it should be. And after decades of peaks and troughs, a season of stability is surely welcome.

Quick review of BCLive table for October 2021

  • 249 no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during October 2021
  • 362 no new construction orders were researched by Builders’ Conference all detailed on the UK’s only Live league table of construction contract awards BCLive
  • Berkeley Group secured overall top spot with a single contract worth £380 million
  • Kier Group was the company with the most number of new construction orders in the month with 16no totaling £72.3 million

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SOURCE: Builders’ Conference PR

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