New report shines a light on Scottish construction industry
The latest construction industry , ‘Reimagining Scotland’s Construction Industry - 2021 and beyond’ is a continuation of the Addleshaw Goddard Scottish Business Monitor Report, which highlighted significant growth in activity and sentiment within the construction industry earlier this year.
The survey was conducted with 43 firms in the sector and found that in the six months ahead respondents were generally positive about their expectations across several indicators, including turnover and employment levels. Findings also suggested that expected capacity is more positive than Scotland’s economy as a whole.
On average, firms are expected to operate between 76-99 per cent of normal capacity, with only 10 per cent of businesses expected to operate at under 50 per cent of normal capacity in the construction sector.
Economic/Business uncertainty was the most important issue facing businesses over the coming 3 months, with 100 per cent of businesses reporting it as ‘Very important’ or ‘Important’. Policy uncertainty (98 per cent) and staff availability (94 per cent) were also important issues facing businesses
The report found that only 6 per cent of businesses in the construction sector expressed that it was unlikely they would survive over the next 6 months, with 82 per cent reporting that it was somewhat or very likely that they would survive. 74 per cent of businesses reported their cashflow positions were secure or very secure, just over 1 in 5 reported that their cashflow positions were insecure
In terms of government support, 42 per cent of businesses reported that the support has been sufficient or very sufficient, which was higher than Scotland as a whole. 34 per cent of businesses expressed that the level of government support for their business was somewhat or very insufficient for their survival, which was lower than the Scottish average (41 per cent).
‘The infrastructure that will be needed to support the move to renewable energy provision, meeting the housing supply crisis, retrofitting homes and offices and every other kind of building to cut their carbon emissions, changing the way supply chains are managed, what materials are used and where they are sourced – all this is going to be a huge focus for the next decade and after.’ said a contributor to the report.
The race to become net-zero will likely encourage the use of local building materials much more – at the moment, Scotland and the rest of the UK rely heavily on European imports to supply contractors with bricks, marble, concrete, and steel, but with Brexit costs and logistics are changing.
The report found that appetite from both private and public sector clients tendering new projects is heavily geared towards the net-zero agenda, with another contributor saying they have already seen significant resilience on increased construction costs among private sector clients where carbon savings can be achieved.
Anne Struckmeier, construction and engineering partner at Addleshaw Goddard, : “Scotland’s construction sector has endured a turbulent 12 months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the Scottish government to request the complete closure of the vast majority of construction sites throughout the first lockdown.
“This had a detrimental impact on the industry nationwide but collectively, the sector is now in a strong position to deliver a more modernised and sustainable approach. This is helped by the Scottish government’s post-pandemic growth roadmap which is focused on investing in retrofitting existing stock in the built environment."
Barriers to delivering a more modern construction sector remain high, especially in Scotland because of the political uncertainty surrounding Scottish independence and future relationship with Europe.
“Improvements, particularly around the use of data and tech, are still needed. However, despite this, the report highlights that the industry seems cautiously optimistic that the rising tide of awareness on environmental, social, and governance considerations has the potential to trigger the construction sector’s own green industrial revolution, which is an exciting position to be in.” Struckmeier added.
Research reveals 164% rise in searches for loft conversions
Market research conducted by building supply specialist Insulation4Less has revealed that searches for ‘Loft Conversions’ rose by a staggering 164% between May and June of this year, while searches for ‘Loft Conversion Ideas’ jumped by 186% as people spend more time on home renovations this summer.
The company also found that the most popular use for a loft conversion is for an additional bedroom, while an extra bathroom was the second-highest search term. Walk-in wardrobes came in third, beating out a home office in fourth while converting a loft into a home cinema round off the top five.
According to a recent study, a loft conversion can add roughly 20% to the value of a property. With the average UK house price standing at £267,000 in January 2021, this represents an average increase in value of more than £53,400.
Johnpaul Manning, Managing Director of Insulation4Less, said: “If the last year has taught us anything, it's that having space is essential to our mental health and wellbeing, so it's no surprise that people are taking the time to focus on home improvements to help them make the most of their home.
As one of the most under-utilised areas in any property, loft conversions represent a great opportunity to maximise the use of space that not only improves quality of life but also has the capacity to add value to the home”, he said.
Manning added that it's important to remember that a loft conversion isn't just your average DIY project, and should never be done on the spur of the moment. “A significant amount of planning needs to happen to make it a reality, and an understanding that life can be disrupted while the build is taking place.
“While it's definitely a worthwhile project, I'd recommend that anyone considering a loft conversion should do some in-depth research to really understand what's needed to make it a reality”, Manning said.
Is Your Loft Suitable For a Conversion?
While loft conversions do look amazing and add an extra element to a property, not all homes may be suitable. Insulation4Less says that this is due to a variety of factors.
“It's important to make sure that your roof is structurally sound enough to handle a conversion”, the company said. Although there are different types of roof structures, they mostly fall into two distinct categories: a traditional roof, and a trussed roof.
A traditional roof: was typically found in pre-1960s houses. Rafters on traditional roofs run along its edges, leaving a good amount of free space. However, they might still need new or extra support. Trussed roofs, on the other hand, have ‘W’ shaped rafters that support the roof and the floor structure. Even though truss roofs may appear to be harder to convert, it’s not impossible; the ‘W’ shaped rafters can be replaced with an ‘A’ shape structure which creates a hollow space. While this can add additional costs, it could be a worthy investment, so take this into consideration during your planning process.
“Another thing to consider is the roof's height and pitch, and how that will impact the amount of space you’ll have. You’ll need a minimum height of 2.2m to ensure proper clearance. While you might be happy to settle for something a little shorter on paper, make sure your happy with the height you have and the effect it could have on the enjoyment of the space”, Insulation4Less advises.
The company recommends doing research before going to an architect or contractor. “Ultimately, look for other conversions on your street or in similar properties, and if you feel comfortable, ask if you can have a look and discuss how their project came together - you’ll find a wealth of information that could really help your own project in the future”.
Information credit: Insulation4Less.