The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released its Future Trends Survey for December 2013.
The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index fell back very slightly in December 2013 to +30 compared with +31 in November 2013. Only 10% of UK practices expect workloads to reduce over the next quarter with the remainder expecting them to stay the same or increase. London (balance figure +41) was the most upbeat area of the UK this month, but all nations and regions remained positive about future prospects.
Medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff) remained the most optimistic about prospects for workloads over the next quarter, returning a balance figure of +44. Private housing remains the most buoyant sector, with the workload forecast increasing a little to +31 in December 2013, from +29 in November 2013.
"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," commented Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice.
The commercial sector workload forecast fell back to +11 in December 2013, down from +18 in November 2013. Both the community sector workload forecast (balance figure +4) and the public sector workload forecast (balance figure -1) also fell a little this month.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index stood at +6 in December 2013, falling from +11 in November 2013. This perhaps indicates a slight reduction in overall confidence levels, following a series of previous upward movements in this Index, but remains firmly in positive territory. Medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff) were the most optimistic this month about their ability to sustain higher staffing levels in the medium term, returning a balance figure of +22.
In December 2013, the percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed in the previous month fell to 17%, suggesting that the amount of spare capacity within the architects' profession is gradually reducing.
"Whilst 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," Dobson added.