New YouGov research identifies general lack of flood risk knowledge across the UK.

Ten years since the devastating summer floods of 2007, which saw over 48,000 homes affected by flooding, the UK population is failing to take adequate steps to understand whether their homes are at risk of flooding, with more than half (53%) of respondents from a YouGov survey confirming they have never checked whether their homes’ in an area officially considered to be at risk of flooding.

This increases to 63% when specifically asking people in Scotland and higher again, 75%, when questioning people in Northern Ireland.

The findings were revealed today in a Landmark Information-commissioned YouGov survey that looked at how perceptions had changed over the ten-year period.

In addition, when asked what their biggest concern would be if they were to find out their home is located in an ‘at risk’ area, 31% said the potential for loss of damage to personal possessions was their main worry.

It’s clear that those surveyed felt that the likes of construction companies, local councils, government and environmental authorities could be doing more to raise awareness and manage defence against flooding with 35% saying their confidence is about the same as it was in 2007. The online survey highlighted that consumer knowledge of how to check whether a property is considered at risk from flooding was limited; 39% said that checking online via Google or other search engines would be their first port of call, followed by asking the Environment Agency (25%) and then asking their local council (13%).

The same number of people also (13%) also stated that they would not know where to turn for this information at all.

Mary Dhonau OBE, Chief Executive of the Know Your Flood Risk campaign said “I know only too well the devastating consequences of flooding having been flooded myself on many occasions. Planning ahead really is the best policy and knowing whether your property is at risk from flooding will ensure that you are better prepared.”

There is optimism for construction workloads in the UK, despite uncertainties around Brexit weighing on investment decisions, and various market constraints, according to the results of the Q4 2017 RICS Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey.

Survey highlights:

  • Only 12% of respondents expressed any confidence in Government strategy succeeding to hit housing target
  • Brexit uncertainties continue to weigh on investment decisions
  • Outlook for workloads and employment growth improves amid ongoing capacity constraints

View and download the survey

Workloads rise

In Q4 2017, 21% more chartered surveyors reported their workloads to have risen despite financial constraints, labour shortages and planning delays remaining key impediments to growth with 80%, 60% and 60% of surveyors reporting difficulties with each, respectively. Comments from some respondents suggest that stricter conditions being placed on firms by financial institutions are limiting growth, which most likely reflects increased caution given cyclical market conditions and Brexit considerations.

The lack of sufficiently skilled workers also remains an obstacle for many businesses, particularly with regard to professional services such as quantity surveying – only in 2007 had the share of contributors highlighting this as a concern been higher.

Also measured in the Q4 2017 survey was an assessment of how contributors feel about the wide range of policies included in the Autumn Budget and Housing White Paper to lift housing delivery to 300,000 units per year. Nationally, only 12% of respondents expressed any confidence in the overall strategy succeeding while the remainder were evenly divided between a lack of confidence or being unsure.


Looking at specific policies, a £1.1 billion fund to unlock strategic sites, including new settlements and urban regeneration schemes, was viewed by far as the most effective to boost housebuilding (37%). This was followed by lifting Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps for councils in high demand areas (18%) and adding £2.7bn to the Housing Infrastructure Fund (16%).

Despite the constraints that firms have been facing recently, chartered surveyors remain optimistic about the outlook for the year ahead. The RICS survey is forward looking in comparison to official data, and net balances of 48% and 35% of respondents expect workloads and employment levels, respectively, to continue to rise over the coming 12 months.

Pace of growth

Workloads are now reported to be increasing across all geographic regions, particularly in the Midlands and North. Over the past year or two, however, the pace of growth in the infrastructure sector has slowed noticeably in Scotland with surveyors now reporting the first decrease in activity since Q3 2016. This has been somewhat offset by an improvement in workloads in Northern Ireland.

Higher input costs and a shortage of labour continue to restrict growth in profit margins, with a net balance of +12% of respondents expecting a rise in margins over the coming year, unchanged from the previous quarter. This is likely to have impacted tender pricing as well, with 56% more respondents in both the building and civil engineering areas envisaging greater price pressures.

Jeffrey Matsu, RICS Senior Economist said “Activity in the construction and infrastructure sectors continues to expand despite uncertainties related to Brexit and recent market events. While expectations for the year ahead remain positive, surveyors express very limited faith in the government’s national strategy to deliver on its revised housing delivery target. Capacity constraints notwithstanding, the ability of the sector to contribute more sustainably to economic prosperity will depend largely on more coherent policies addressing issues ranging from workforce development to local planning and permissioning.”

Lewis Johnston, RICS Parliamentary Affairs Manager added “with only 12% of respondents confident that the Government’s overall housing strategy is sufficient to meet housebuilding targets, it’s clear more radical action is needed. As we said at the time of the Autumn Budget, the smorgasbord of policies set out by the Chancellor did not amount to the fundamental step-change we need to really shift the dial on housing.

“In practical terms, the Government should go further with the policies respondents felt will be most effective, such as the £1.1 billion fund to unlock strategic sites. In addition to the partial lifting of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap, councils should also be given the tools they need to build, including more access to funding and a pipeline of suitable land. The fact that 60% of survey respondents cited labour shortages as a serious constraint to growth underlines to need to tackle skills shortages in construction, and move the sector towards higher-tech, less labour intensive production methods.”

Expectations across the construction sector have now regained the ground lost post the EU vote, according to the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Construction Market Survey, Q4 2016.

  • National workloads still positive with the private housing displaying strongest momentum
    Road and rail set to be the fastest growing infrastructure sectors over next twelve months
    Expectations for workloads, employment and profit margins improve

An overview

Following a noticeable dip around the time of the EU referendum, expectations for output growth over the year to come strengthened for the second consecutive report. Indeed, the twelve month workloads expectations series improved to post a reading of +57% (following +49% and +23% in Q3 and Q2 respectively).

Alongside this, employment expectations improved for the second straight report, with 41% more respondents anticipating a rise in construction sector employment over the year to come. As such, both employment and workload expectations have now recovered to their pre-referendum levels.
The latest results point to modest growth across the sector in the final quarter of 2016, with 18% more respondents reporting an increase in total workloads. However, while the data is broadly positive, the anecdotal comments left by chartered surveyors do continue to highlight uncertainty surrounding the departure from the EU to be dampening investment and activity.

During Q4, output increased in most sub sectors except public non-housing. Following the pattern of the last three quarters, the strongest quarterly rise in workloads was reported in the private housing sector. 27% more respondents cited an increase in private housing workloads (rather than a decrease). A rise in workloads was also reported in the private commercial and infrastructure sectors.

Meanwhile, both output and input costs rose in Q4 2016 with input prices extending a run of uninterrupted growth stretching back to Q2 2010.


Over the next twelve months, respondents continue to expect the road and rail sub categories of infrastructure to post the most significant increases in construction output at the national level. Regionally, expectations for growth in railway output lead the way in London, the North West, Yorkshire & Humberside, Wales and the West Midlands. Meanwhile, expectations for growth in road construction activity come out on top in all other areas of the UK.
Skill shortages continue to be a key impediment to growth in the sector, although they have eased in five consecutive reports. Interestingly however, the one area that remains a particular concern is the shortage of quantity surveyors with 66% of respondents highlighting a gap. This is the highest figure since 2008.

Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of Policy said “Many firms are currently having to bring construction professionals in from outside the UK. The lack of quantity surveyors consistently apparent in our survey is also underscored by the fact that, at the moment, under the government’s Shortage Occupation List, it is easier to employ a ballet dancer than a quantity surveyor.

“Even if we were to reverse this and also ensure that through Brexit we maintain access to EU workforce, we would still have a domestic shortfall of skills. The Industrial Strategy is a golden opportunity to align education, training and employer work paths – along with modern methods of construction – to ensure we have the skilled workforce to meet our building targets.”

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, added “The latest results suggest that the construction sector has shrugged off concerns about the effect of Brexit with key workload indicators remaining firm around the country. Indeed, feedback regarding the outlook over the next twelve months is now rosier than it was back in the autumn with more building anticipated as 2017 unfolds.

“That said, there remains some unease about access to skilled labour in the emerging new world and financial constraints still remain a major challenge for many businesses. And significantly, we are being told that a shortage of quantity surveyors is impacting on the development process at the present time.”

Following the news that the first major works contracts for High Speed 2 worth around £900m have been awarded to three consortia*, a survey conducted by the ITV Tonight programme into issues surrounding HS2 has found:

  • Only 15% feel that HS2 is worth £56bn
  • 58% don’t think it’s a price worth paying
  • 77% of people would prefer that the money was spent in other areas, like the NHS
  • Nearly three-quarters of people thought HS2 would lead to price rises for train tickets
  • 60% said they would not pay more to ride on HS2
  • 7% would be prepared to pay increased prices for the high speed line
  • 80% said they felt sympathy for people who may lose their homes to HS2, even though they may be compensated
  • 11% people thought the high speed rail link would benefit the majority of commuters
  • 23% are not aware that HS2 is being planned

Additionally, less than 20% of respondents thought they would use HS2 when built, and only a third of people feeling that HS2 will benefit the north.

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager responded “After six and a half years of trying to con people into thinking HS2 is a good idea, public support for this white elephant is at an all-time low. It’s clear the spin from Government isn’t working as not only do only 15% think it’ll be worth the money, they’ve also seen through the spin, with the vast majority thinking it won’t benefit commuters, it won’t benefit the north and it will lead to an increase in the cost of train tickets. Quite simply, no-one is buying the hype and it is time to cancel HS2 before it is too late.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 added “We have yet another survey that shows the British people don’t think HS2 is worth the £56 billion pound price tag. This is the same message as from numerous other surveys. People can see the downsides, they won’t use HS2 and they are worried that HS2 will mean increased fare prices on the trains they do use. With the Government’s intention that whoever gets the West Coast Main Line franchise will also run HS2 for the first few years, it is even more likely that conventional speed fares will go up.”

*North: LM JV (Laing O’Rourke Construction, J Murphy & Sons)
South: CS JV (Costain, Skanska Construction UK )
Central: Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman (UK)

  • Brits spend £244 correcting the average DIY decorating disaster, adding up to a staggering £6 billion by the nation per year
  • Our inability to complete decorating tasks means there are currently 31.7 million unfinished jobs in British households
  • One in ten Brits have injured themselves doing DIY decorating

With many Brits tackling DIY projects in their homes, new research has exposed the pitfalls that over-confident, self-proclaimed handymen and women may be up against. A study by Armstead Trade of more than 2,000 homeowners has revealed that three quarters of Brits have experienced DIY disasters that cost hundreds of pounds to put right.

According to the survey, the nation’s inability to complete basic DIY tasks to a decent standard, including painting a wall or a ceiling or putting up wallpaper means Brits spend £244 on average correcting their mistakes. This adds up to a staggering £6.19 billion spent on putting right a bodged attempt at decorating or DIY across the nation. Some DIY decorating results have been so poorly executed that 6% have had to splash out more than £1,000 for professionals to fix their bodged attempts.

The study, commissioned by professional paint brand, Armstead Trade, the ‘smart choice for professional decorators’, found that 67% of homeowners now avoid doing basic decorating themselves, with one in ten fearing they will repeat a previous disaster. 16% report feeling stressed at the prospect of completing a decorating project and 12% of men report that their partner does not trust them to do it. 36% of the nation admit that they simply don’t have the skills to do decorating themselves and as a result of this, there are now 31,767,600 unfinished decorating jobs across the country.

According to respondents, painting walls and ceiling are the jobs most likely to end badly (32%), followed by putting up wallpaper (15%), constructing flatpack furniture (14%) and putting up shelves (12%). When asked about their mistakes, a fifth of respondents admitted ruining carpet or furniture by spilling paint on them, with some even admitting to spilling paint on pets (4%) and children (1%). The research shows that many of these mishaps are down to attempting to do a DIY task too quickly (20%) while a lack of appropriate tools (16%) was also cited as a reason for a DIY decorating job not working out as well as was hoped. 3% reported that a decorating task ended in disaster after having consumed a few glasses of beer or wine. And one in ten has injured themselves while doing DIY and decorating. Aside from mishaps such as hitting themselves with a hammer, 6 per cent have fallen off a ladder and one in 25 men (4 per cent) have managed to do themselves such a mischief that they needed hospital treatment.

Revealingly, the survey also showed that DIY and decorating is the cause of rows and recrimination between 9 per cent of squabbling couples. So much so, that in a bid to impress, 7 per cent of men admit they have hired a professional to do the job and then claimed they did it themselves afterwards. Meanwhile, a quarter have had to get a friend or relative to finish their bodged job for them.

It seems that one in ten Brits find relatively simple tasks that would involve isolating or shutting off water beyond their comfort zone – 10% indicated that fixing a dripping tap or taking a radiator off a wall would flummox them and result in a disaster. Almost one in ten (7 per cent) confess to using entirely the wrong paint for the job, such as gloss instead of emulsion, 12 per cent have drilled a hole too big for the task and 6 per cent have seen their shelves fall down.

Jason Duggan, Senior Brand Manager at Armstead paints, explains: “Homeowners think they may be saving money by taking on improvement tasks themselves, but the jobs can often take longer and cause inconvenience with whole rooms being out of use for some time. The tasks themselves are more difficult because of a lack of knowledge or appropriate tools. We think the smart choice is to employ a decorator who knows their trade.”

Non-professionals are prone to making mistakes, which, as the research releveals can cost a considerable amount of money to put right. Jason Duggan continues: “Lack of knowledge and experience makes homeowners underestimate the complexity of a job, so they tend to give up half way through it, which explains the high number of unfinished DIY decorating jobs we currently have in British households.”

The top 10 list of decorating disasters that we can’t get right:

  • 31% have made a mess of painting a ceiling or a wall
  • 15% have suffered from incorrectly put up wallpaper
  • 14% have failed at constructing flatpack furniture
  • 12% have bodged fixing shelves to a wall
  • 9% have ended up with a less than perfect finish painting gloss on woodwork
  • 7% fixing a dripping tap
  • 4% wiring a plug
  • 4% putting down flooring

While 50% of Brits claim not to have suffered any DIY accidents, 6% also boldly boast of being a DIY ‘genius’, indicating that they have not needed to swot up on how to do a decorating task.

Decorator Confessions

Armstead Trade also asked professional decorators to confirm how often they are called in to fix a mangled DIY decorating disaster and the results are startling. 69% spend between one to two days per job fixing their customers’ decorating mistakes and a further 31% spend between three to six days per job on corrections. With the average British work day of eight hours, decorating mistakes are costing Britain 19 hours and 26 minutes of labour per job (or 14 days per year, per decorator); time that could be spent on getting decorating jobs right the first time with a professional finish.

Jason Duggan, Armstead Trade says: “We did not expect decorators to indicate that they devote so much of their time fixing decorating jobs. The decorators we polled say they are called six times a year on average to fix jobs that customers have made a mess of. It is important for homeowners to make smart choices when it comes to home improvements, even if this means admitting they are not up to the task. It is often cheaper, quicker and better to rely on qualified professionals to do a job. Not only will jobs have a better quality but they will save homeowners the need to pay twice.”

While Armstead Trade is drawing attention to homeowners making a ‘smart choice’ by engaging a professional decorator, it also wants to make decorators’ lives easier and for a limited period only, the ‘Bodge It Shop’ launches on the 26th May – providing so-called ‘shortcut product solutions’ to help decorators correct even more DIY painting jobs. Decorators wanting to make a real smart choice for their customers however, can visit their local Dulux Decorating Centre to see the range of Armstead paints.

We polled both our twitter following and our database of construction professionals about how they were planning on voting in this coming referendum. Here is what they came back with.

Of the 75 respondents, which consist of building specifiers, contractors, architects and decision makers within the industry, 65% voted to remain in the EU and 35% said that we should leave. What are your thoughts?

Let us know in the comments section below!

The EU referendum is currently dividing opinion within the construction industry. It did in 1975 and now once again in 2016 we find ourselves asking “should we stay or should we go?” How are you planning on voting? Take part in our anonymous twitter survey below and feel free to explain your reasons or concerns in the comments section below!

CEDIA EMEA has introduced a new, interactive online questionnaire designed to engage consumer and professional audiences on The Future of the Connected Home. Sitting on the CEDIA EMEA website, and available for all members to embed on their own website, this useful tool will help the industry better understand the needs and views of its target audiences, at the same time as educating them about key facts and issues in connected home technology.

“The connected home landscape is evolving and becoming more complex as it does so,” says Matt Nimmons, CEDIA EMEA’s Operations Director. “In this world, extracting knowledge about our customers and potential customers, their requirements and their behaviours, will help our industry remain relevant, develop the right business models and continue to grow as a profession. This tool will be a great ice-breaker for audiences new to our industry, helping profile their level of understanding and giving us and our members valuable information.”

He adds, “We recognize that educating consumers and specifiers also plays a critical role. This interactive questionnaire will help us share important information on the connected home with these audiences to inform the choices that they make. The interactive questionnaire is the foundation to our understanding of the market so that we can make sure CEDIA and CEDIA members are correctly targeting the right customers.”

Entitled The Future of the Connected Home, the survey allows users to share their thoughts on a range of subjects, including the scale of the connected home sector, the likely appeal of different technology sub-systems, the impact of broadband availability, potential project budgets and priorities for connected home installations. CEDIA uses industry market research from reputable sources, such as, Frost & Sullivan and YouGov to feed back to all survey participants with a range of key insights on technology trends. All those who complete the survey will be entitled to a copy of the report and the opportunity to attend a CEDIA CPD session.

The interactive questionnaire forms part of CEDIA EMEA’s substantial investment in a dedicated marketing campaign to help the organisation achieve ambitious goals for raising the profile of the industry, achieving greater alignment between specifiers, manufacturers, installers and consumers and to become the voice of the industry in 2016.

The interactive online questionnaire has been developed by CEDIA’s digital marketing and communications agency, Purestone.

To access the questionnaire, please follow

Alternatively, for more information and details on how the questionnaire can be embedded into members’ websites, email

Power tools are the most stolen item from building sites and workers in the construction trade, with small traders suffering most from crime in the industry.

A national security equipment installation and servicing company has found that smaller, easy-to-fence items are more likely to be stolen, but there are still significant numbers of thefts of large plant and machinery.

The Yorkshire-based company says that while site and contractor van security has improved greatly in recent years, the “inside job” is still one of the major risks to any building site. surveyed 75 building firms, from large companies down to sole traders, and found that the ten most stolen items in 2015 were:

  1. Power tools
  2. Bags of cement
  3. Ladders
  4. Plant machinery
  5. Wheelbarrows
  6. Building materials and other supplies
  7. Cable
  8. Metals
  9. Personal items – radios, phones, cash
  10. Hand tools

Ratcliffe notes that power tools are far and away the most vulnerable item because they have a high resale value, and they’re usually very portable. Such is the specialised nature of the stolen goods, they can only be resold to rogue traders looking to equip themselves cheaply and with little care to the crime victims in their own profession.

“A determined gang of thieves can steal thousands of pounds worth of decent quality gear from a single trader and put him out of a job for months,” he says. “Even taking every precaution to safeguard your property, it only takes a minute with your guard down for your livelihood to be taken away.

“Buying stolen professional tools on the quiet isn’t a victimless crime.”

While targeted theft from contractors is a major problem, the biggest proportion of construction industry crime comes from theft of supplies, materials and plant from building sites. Unfortunately, no site manager can rule out the risk of the “inside job”, says.

“Only a proportion of this kind of activity is ‘dead of night’ thieving,” Ratcliffe says, “Instead building sites haemorrhage material through petty theft and stealing-to-order.”

These stories from victims of construction industry crime speak volumes:

“Like the sign on the van, I never keep tools in there overnight, and they’re always well secured at other times. Instead, someone broke into the van when I parked up at the supermarket on the way home. £3,000 lost in 20 minutes, we couldn’t have a holiday because I had to buy new gear.” – Barry, sole trader

“We always have to budget in a little bit of theft of materials, because you can’t stop the odd opportunist thief. But one job was losing metals, cable and supplies hand-over-fist, almost like they had a shopping list. That probably means somewhere there’s a house built out of our profits.” – Terry, company manager

“I hate it when the small stuff goes missing, like your radio or mobile phone. That means you are working with a thief, and I don’t like that. It happens too much.” – Pavel, bricklayer

Ratcliffe says that sometimes extreme measures have to be taken to protect property. One study in 2011 found that painting plant and equipment pink deters thieves, as it makes it harder to sell on.

“Of course, if everybody painted their gear pink, we’d all be back to square one, which is why technology such as smart water is so effective,” he says. Scaffolding companies know this to be the case, with each local company using a different colour, meaning that stolen equipment is easily identified.

“Construction sites can be chaotic places, which make the ideal for the criminal,” says Ratcliffe. “All it takes is equating crime just as high as safety, and we can save both personal livelihoods and company profits.”

The latest ONS figures, released this week, highlighted a decline in construction activity during Q3. Output in the construction industry was 2.2% lower than in Q2 and 0.1% lower than a year ago, and was 4.3% lower than the pre-recession peak.

Dr Noble Francis, Economics Director at the Construction Products Association, put the data into context: “The fall in construction output in Q3, compared to a year ago, was the first annual fall since 2013 Q1. Skills shortages have been a key issue recently in the industry and are hindering growth, especially in house building. Where skilled labour is available, wage inflation has also been a serious issue, hindering the viability of many sites.

“In the private commercial sector, the largest construction sector, there are still many projects in the pipeline due to contracts that were signed 18-24 months ago. However, sharp rises in costs since then, due to a lack of skilled labour, have adversely affected margins and meant that many projects are on hold for the moment whilst contractors go back to clients and renegotiate prices.”

“Overall, recovery is never a straight line and there are always a few bumps and scrapes along the way. Projects in the pipeline across most construction sectors suggest that activity in the industry will rise in 2016 and our forecasts anticipate 4.2% growth in total construction next year, driven by recovery in house building, commercial and infrastructure activity. Skills shortages, however, are proving to be a key issue constraining growth for the industry.”