NFRC Roofing Survey Highlights Industry Recovery in Q1 2024

THE LATEST NFRC State of the UK Roofing Industry survey for Q1 2024, covering the first quarter of 2024, provides welcome news.

The results show roofing contractors’ workloads and enquiries continuing to increase in the first three months of the year. Further rises are expected over the next 12 months. However, long-term challenges persist including late payment, recruitment and material costs.

NFRC Roofing Survey Q1 2024

The quarterly survey of NFRC members tracks key indicators such as workload, recruitment, material availability and costs across the UK. It also looks at trends in new build and repair, maintenance and improvement (RM&I) in the public, commercial and residential sectors.

Work and Enquiries Improve

One of the key survey findings is the continued growth in demand for roofing services. Overall, a balance of 25% of respondents reported improved workloads in the first quarter (41% reported an increase, against 16% reporting a decline). This marks a significant rise from the 15% balance figure from the previous survey. Increased levels of enquiries for new work were reported by a similar proportion of respondents, with a balance of 27%.

The RM&I sector showed the greatest increases in work. Public, commercial and domestic RM&I all showed strongly positive balance figures of 34%, 32% and 29% respectively. Members’ outlook was also generally positive for the next 12 months, with 72% foreseeing an increase in work over that period and only 8% expecting a decrease.

The Yorkshire and North East region showed the strongest growth in workload, with 43% reporting an increase. This was followed by the North West and Scotland regions with balance figures of 34% and 33%. Less positive market conditions were related in Wales, where 50% experienced a decrease in workload, with no respondents reporting an increase.

Challenges for New Build

The continued low levels of activity in residential new build were highlighted. Among the survey respondents that operate in this sector, 29% said their workload has reduced from the previous quarter, with just 17 % saying it had increased. This negative balance figure of -12% (compared with -10% in the previous quarter) indicates a worsening picture for this sector. The public non-residential new build and commercial new build sectors showed only marginal increases in workload (3% and 2% on balance respectively) in the first quarter.

Skills Shortages Persist

Employment levels remain stable, but problems in recruiting the required skilled people persist in the roofing industry. In fact, 53% of firms experienced greater difficulty employing in the first quarter. This is a sizeable increase from the 44% in Q4 2023. Roof Slater and Tiler was found to be the most challenging role to fill, with 40% of businesses experiencing issues.

Late Payment and Rising Costs

One of the biggest issues for NFRC members remains the late payment of invoices. While improvements have been made, only 37% of respondents that have 30-day payment terms were, on average, paid within that period. Similarly, of those with payment terms of 46 days or more, only 25% reported this was the average time in which they received payment.

While NFRC members indicated continued improvements in the availability of materials, many are experiencing significant material price inflation. A total of 58% recounted increased prices in the first quarter of the year. A similar proportion (57%) stated they had seen labour costs rise since the start of 2024.

James Talman

James Talman, NFRC CEO said: “We are pleased to see the green shoots of recovery and growing demand in our industry. While some challenges remain, and not every sector is seeing the same boost in workload and enquiries, the continually improving market conditions in recent months shown by the survey findings is a cause for real optimism.

“With a general election set for the beginning of July, these findings also highlight the priorities for any future government wishing to support the vital work of the construction industry. This includes long term commitment to the public sector pipeline, expansion of the RM&I sector in tackling energy efficiency, as well as working closely with the industry to reinvigorate the residential new build sector alongside tighter legislation on prompt payment, which is so vital to SME and sole trader businesses.”

Read the full survey report here.

>>Read more about the State of the Roofing Trade in the news

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