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Housing fuels return to growth for construction

Residential development has been linked to the first growth in construction activity since October 2012

The Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index stood at 50.8 in May 2013, up from 49.4 in April.

The increase marks the first time since October 2012 that the index has surpassed the 50.0 figure which denotes no change in activity.

The growth – described as the fastest recorded in 26 weeks – was fuelled by accelerated levels of housing activity last  month.

The growth in pace in housing was however offset by continued declines in civil engineering and commercial work.

A wealth of positive data has also prompted talk of a housing recovery in the UK. The Land Registry revealed that house prices were 5 per cent higher in April 2013 than in the same month the previous year.

Meanwhile the Bank of England said the number of mortgages approved for house purchases had grown six per cent over the same period.

And the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors predicted that five per cent more homes would be sold in 2013 than last year.

This all comes after the National House Building Council said yesterday that 39 per cent more homes were registered with it in April than in the same month last year.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: ‘Is the recovery story a lot of hot air? We believe not, and would point to the increased volume of traffic now going through estate agents as evidenced by the RICS housing market survey.

‘This has historically been a good lead indicator of future mortgage activity and, in April, it climbed to its best level since the back end of 2009. Alongside this, expectations for future sales are also on the rise.’

RICS said it anticipated sales of about 980,000 homes in 2013, up from 930,000 last year.

The Land Registry found that the average house price in the UK was £234,957 in April. In an area of the capital defined as Prime London Central, average prices were up 13 per cent in a year to almost £1.4 million.

The Bank of England revealed that 8,008 home loans were approved for new purchases, a third successive month of higher volumes.

The NHBC said 11,484 new UK residential units were registered in April, with year-to-date registrations a quarter higher than in the same period last year.

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