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Construction sector shrugs off (some of) the post-Brexit blues [THE LATEST Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchase Managers’ Index

– the industry standard report on construction activity – reported a return to growth in the sector in September for the first time since May, primarily driven by a recovery in residential building. New orders also rebounded, which ended a four-month period of sustained decline. Respondents cited improving confidence among clients and a reduced drag on demand from Brexit-related uncertainty. Reflecting that, construction firms indicated a further recovery in their business expectations for the next 12 months, with optimism the strongest since May. Just under half of the survey panel (45%) forecast a rise in output over the year ahead, while only 9% anticipate a reduction. However, the degree of confidence remained softer than that seen at the start of 2016. The latest reading was well above July’s seven-year low and indicated the fastest rise in construction output since March. The pace of expansion was nonetheless still softer than the long-run survey average. A solid rebound in residential activity was the key factor boosting overall construction output during September. Moreover, the latest increase in housing activity was the strongest recorded since January. A number of firms cited resilient demand for residential building work and generally improving market conditions. Construction companies also pointed to a renewed rise in civil

Paul delivers against the odds

engineering activity, with the pace of expansion the fastest since March. Commercial construction activity decreased for the fourth month running, however, which is the longest period of sustained decline since early 2013. The latest fall was only modest and the slowest recorded since the downturn began in June. Tim Moore, senior economist at IHS Markit and author of the Markit/ CIPS Construction PMI, said: “UK construction companies moved back into expansion mode during September, led by a swift recovery in residential building from the three-and-a-half year low recorded in June. “Resilient housing market conditions and a renewed upturn in civil engineering activity helped to drive an overall improvement in construction output volumes for the first time since the EU referendum. “A number of survey respondents noted that Brexit-related anxiety has receded among clients, although it remained a factor behind the ongoing decline in commercial building work.” David Noble, group chief executive officer at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), added: “The residential sector was the winner this month, as consumer confidence made a modest recovery – post the EU referendum. “Overall, the fastest rise in new orders for construction projects since April ended a four-month decline, and purchasing activity was at its highest since March. “But the sector still faces challenges, with continuing pressures on input prices resulting from the weaker pound and the lingering uncertainty of the Brexit process and how it will impact on future business.” q

[PAUL MARLOW has been named CIOB Construction Manager

of the Year 2016 for his inspirational leadership on a £29m student accommodation project for client Unite Students. Competing against some of the most talented construction professionals in the UK, the McAleer & Rushe project manager from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland beat 85 other finalists and 10 gold medallists to lift the coveted trophy. Paul has also scored a CMYA first – he is the first overall winner to come from a residential category in the competition’s 38-year history. Paul’s achievement is all the more impressive because of the project’s difficult beginnings. The start date had to be delayed by two months to January 2014 due to late land purchase, but the completion deadline remained fixed at July last year, in order for Unite to prepare for the first intake of students. Paul initiated a number of revisions to the build strategy to save two months from the programme. A notable time saving initiative involved switching from a post-tensioned to a reinforced in situ concrete frame. Paul also selected a new lightweight cladding system that could be installed by scaffold, mast climbers and cradles – freeing up tower cranes for other activities. Luke Engmann, development manager for Unite Students, said: “Rather than reporting problems, Paul consistently delivered solutions. His foresight and suggestions enabled us to maintain programme and deliver the scheme in time for 2015 occupation. He also led by example on health and safety. The fact that we had zero accidents can be directly attributed to the conscientious work from Paul and his team.” q www.constructionnational.co.uk

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1CHK 2016 mag p1 108 online  

Construction London Build 2016 Scotland Build 2016 Zoos Land of the Lions London Zoo Brexit Working at Height NASC CISRS PASMA CPD MEWPs Roo...

1CHK 2016 mag p1 108 online  

Construction London Build 2016 Scotland Build 2016 Zoos Land of the Lions London Zoo Brexit Working at Height NASC CISRS PASMA CPD MEWPs Roo...