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Downward dip ends 8-month US building boom

US design workloads have fallen for the first time in nine months

The American Institute of Architects’ closely watched Architecture Billings Index posted a reading of 48.6 for April.

This is below the critical 50 mark that represents no change from the previous month, and shows that the eight-month surge in work has come to an end.

A dip in non-residential workloads dragged the industry into negative territory in April, with planning and financing problems blamed.

Demand for design work on multi-family residential projects actually rose, with an index score of 52.0. But commercial and industrial work fell (49.2) as did work on mixed-use schemes (48.6).

The Northeast region suffered the most, with a score of 48.2, while the Midwest also saw workloads fall (49.4).

The West saw a moderate rise in work, at 50.7, while architects in the South saw a solid increase (52.6).

AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said: ‘Project approval delays are having an adverse effect on the design and construction industry, but again and again we are hearing that it is extremely difficult to obtain financing to move forward on real estate projects.’

The new project inquiries index remained healthy at 58.5, suggesting hope of fresh growth in the sector over the coming months.

Baker said: ‘Given that inquiries for new projects continue to be strong, we’re hopeful that this is just a short-term dip.’

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