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Medium-size practices most optimistic about future, says RIBA

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Ninety per cent of architects believe that practice workloads will improve or remain the same over the next quarter, with architects in London being the most upbeat

The December 2013 RIBA Future Trends Workload Index shows a slight fall from +31 in November 2013 to +30 last month, yet the figures remain overwhelmingly positive and provide evidence from the coalface of the ‘current recovery’.

Largely buoyed by private housing commissions, medium-sized practices (11 – 50 staff) remain most optimistic, returning a balance figure of +44.

These firms were also most likely to ‘sustain higher staffing levels’, reporting a +22 index despite an overall industry average of +6 (down from November’s +11).

But RIBA also reported some cause for concern, with the commercial sector workload outside London taking a hit, falling from +18 in November 2013 down to +11 in December.  Community sector workloads (balance figure +4) and public sector workload (balance figure -1) also fell.

RIBA Director of Practice, Adrian Dobson said: ‘It appears that the current recovery is largely being driven by a widespread strengthening of the private housing sector and a pick-up in commercial projects in London and the South of England.’

And Dobson warned that while the recovery may be under way, wages are yet to rise: ‘While a significant number of practices are seeing an upswing in both the levels of enquiries and work in progress there is little sign yet of any corresponding increase in general fee levels; achieving reasonable profit margins remains challenging for many,’ he said.

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