Federation Of Master Builders Survey

There has been a rebound in repair, maintenance and improvement building work for the first three months of this year but government action is desperately needed to stop the fall in house building says the Federation of Master Builders.

In the repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI), reported workloads are up by 12% compared to Q4 2022, with reported enquiries up 14% on the previous quarter according to the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) latest ‘State of Trade Survey’.

Brian Berry, CEO of the FMB, says: “The rebound in domestic building work at the start of this year compared with the pessimistic forecasts towards the end of last year is an encouraging sign that parts of the building industry are bouncing back. It’s a positive sign for the overall economy that homeowners are continuing to invest in their homes.”


House building

Berry adds: “Despite the good news for domestic building work, it is very concerning that house building is still in negative figures, despite a slight increase in reported workloads. Given there is a growing housing crisis the fact we are building fewer and not more homes is a worrying sign for consumers, builders and the government alike.”



The FMB’s survey also shows the effect inflation is having on SME building companies resulting in them having to raise their prices in order to stay afloat and with 10% of FMB member companies potentially at risk of closure. We are far from having certainty in the building industry but at least there are some signs that we are starting to move in the right direction.”


The latest survey for Q1 2023 found:


Market conditions


  • There is an overall recovery in enquiry and workload levels for the RMI sector as 14% of members report an increase this quarter.

  • Almost nine in ten (87%) FMB members report an increase in material costs.

  • The house building sector is continuing to struggle with more reporting a decline in workload that those seeing more work (-4%).  However, this has improved on last quarter where it was -18%.



  • At least one in three FMB members reported that they are struggling to recruit carpenters/joiners, bricklayers and general labourers

  • are (41%, 36%, and 31%).

  • Members report an overall net decrease in employment levels in Q1 2023 (-3%).


Impact of changes in prices and costs

  • 87% of members reported that material cost had increased in Q1 2023.

  • Three quarters (75%) of FMB members reported an increase in the prices they charge for work.

  • 45% of members reported that business profits were lower than expected this quarter.


Picture: The FMB State of Trade Survey, which is released quarterly, is the longest running survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK.




Article written by Cathryn Ellis
11th May 2023


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