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Recovery continues for architects

Confidence about an improvement in future workloads remains solid and widespread across the UK, says latest RIBA survey

Posted by Dave Higgitt | May 30, 2014 | Technology

The April results of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Future Trends Survey saw all UK nations and regions returning very positive balance figures for future workload forecasts, with architects in London most positive with a balance figure of +45.

Small (1 – 10 staff), medium (10 – 50 staff) and large-sized practices (51+ staff) all reported very positive workload forecast figures.

In terms of sectors, the private housing sector (workload forecast, up to +33 from +31 in March 2014) and the commercial sector (workload forecast, up to +22 from +17 in March 2014) continue to lead the way. The public sector workload forecast (balance figure +4) fell slightly this month; the community sector workload forecast (balance figure +5) saw positive movement.

RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson said:“Optimism about future workload continues to be driven by a widespread strengthening of the private housing sector and an increasing pick-up in commercial projects. RIBA practices reported an 8% improvement in the value of actual work in-progress in Q1 of 2014 compared with Q1 in 2013, representing the third consecutive quarter of aggregate growth in the value of work being undertaken by the UK architects’ profession.”

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell back slightly this month, standing at +8 in April 2014 compared with +11 in March 2014, but the majority of practices (94%) expect their staffing levels to either stay the same or increase during the next quarter. The Staffing Index remains firmly in positive territory, as it has during the latter part of 2013 and throughout 2014.

In April 2014 the percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed in the previous month was 19%, perhaps giving some indication why we have not yet seen any significant increase in actual aggregate staffing levels within participating practices, despite the return to growth of work in progress.

Dobson continued: “The market for architects’ services is becoming more buoyant, especially in the housing and commercial sectors. However, our practices continue to report a very competitive market for their services, with strong pressure on fee levels and profit margins on many projects remaining very tight.”


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