The 4.4% increase in building and construction output recorded by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) during the first quarter of 2013 has been described as a positive signal for the construction industry. That’s the view of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) who says that optimism is starting to creep back into the sector.
According to the CSO’s Production in Building and Construction Index, the volume of building output went from 22.7 in Q4 2012 to 23.7 in Q1 2013. At the same time the value index moved from 26.0 in Q4 2012 to 26.5 in Q1 2013. There were also substantial improvements on the figures recorded for the comparable first quarter during 2012.
“It’s too early to say that the decline in construction activity is over, but this is a positive signal,” said CIF Director General Tom Parlon. “We are definitely seeing some optimism returning to the industry. The mood amongst our member companies has changed significantly from this time last year. At that time there was little hope of securing work in the industry, however that seems to have changed in certain parts of the country at least.
“This is actually the second quarter in a row that the CSO have recorded an increase in volume and value of construction activity. There was an increase between Q3 and Q4 2012 and now the latest CSO report for Q1 2013 has noted further growth. Our challenge is to sustain that trend and generate further activity throughout the industry in the coming quarters.
“The breakdown of the statistics by sector is also not that surprising. The 6.8% jump in residential building activity reflects the recently published CIF house building statistics. We have noted that the number of new housing starts grew by 159 units in the first three months of 2013, a jump of almost 20% on the same period in 2012. This was offset by the number of housing units completed which dropped by 6.4% in the period up to April.
“The drop of 0.7% in the volume of civil engineering work is disappointing. That sector was already working from a low base. This underlines the need for capital spending and why a stimulus programme is essential if we are to see the construction sector recover,” Mr. Parlon concluded.