Smaller builders still upbeat despite economic headwinds

A  survey by the Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG) of its customers revealed that almost one-fifth had ‘too much’ or ‘more than usual’ work in the pipeline

Even with a cost of living squeeze on domestic spending, 70% said demand had remained stable or increased and they had not felt the impact yet of tightening purse strings.

Martin Stables, CEO of IBMG said: “Bombarded with negative stories about the economy one would have expected that home owners to be wary about progressing new projects, however, it appears from this research that the majority of local builders are faring well, with demand remaining stable or increasing.”

Established just four years ago, IBMG has expanded rapidly by acquisition and now owns 173 merchant branches spanning five divisions; general builders merchants, plumbing, heating & bathrooms, electrical wholesale, roofing & timber.

The type of work its customers carry out ranked in importance as: refurbishment & maintenance, followed by extensions, then loft & garage conversions, with new builds and internal reconfigurations coming in at fourth place.

A third of those surveyed specially mentioned garage and loft conversions hinting at a trend to expanding living areas rather than moving home.

Surprisingly, when asked specifically about building work to improve energy efficiency, only 11% said they worked on delivering energy efficiency projects at the moment.

However, more than a third reported an increase in enquiries for this type of work  – such as demand for insulation work such as attic insulation, window replacement and enquires about renewable energy sources.

Stables said: “What we can take from these results is that people might be investing in their existing property rather than moving.

“Unsurprisingly, a third of our customers are reporting increased enquiries on energy efficient installations. Either way it appears that local builders are kept busy and fully employed.”

Stable said: “While rising interest rates could dampen ambitions of the large construction and building contractors, this survey suggests that local builders working on local projects appear to be insulated from the current economic crisis.

“Demand remains fairly constant and it appears that they have their cash flow situation in order too with the vast majority reporting timely payments.

“Contrary to many media reports and fears among workers about whether they would be unable to weather the storm this IBMG survey reveals cautious optimism among the small and medium-sized builder throughout the UK. “




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