01/08/2001

Red tape leave customers waiting for builders

Following a disastrous first quarter of the year when orders dropped by 73 per cent, workloads for builders in Northern Ireland have shown a significant recovery reports the Federation of Master Builders in its State of Trade Survey for the Second Quarter 2001.

However, the expectation is that growth will be much smaller during the third quarter. Builders report that it is red tape, rather than full order books, that prevents them from shortening the time that customers have to wait until their project can be started. Forty two per cent of builders report having to spend two days a week dealing with red tape rather than being out on site.

During the second quarter of the year, builders’ workloads in Northern Ireland have increased by 88 per cent. The rise in workloads is led by a continued growth in orders for the repair, maintenance and improvement of private and social housing of 30 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

The repair and maintenance of public and non-residential buildings has also shown an increase of 15 and 13 per cent. New build work is also led by the private domestic sector with an increase of 18 per cent. A small increase has been reported for industrial and commercial work.

Looking ahead, builders in Northern Ireland expect a further increase of only six per cent in workloads over the next three months.

Howard Locke, Regional Director of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The large amount of red tape and bureaucracy continues to be a major problem for. In addition to the avalanche of paper work that threatens to bury many businesses, builders also have to contend with the complicated bureaucracy of the Construction Industry Scheme for the employment of sub-contractors.

“This means that they are forced to spend more time in the office and less time out on site working on customers’ projects. Two days out of every working week are taken up with paper work.”

Builders are also faced with a very tight labour market with 71 per cent reporting difficulties in recruiting skilled craftsmen, with bricklayers, carpenters and joiners the most difficult to find. (MB)

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