Turnover construction sector picks up in first half of 2011

After 2010, a very dramatic year for the construction sector (excluding property developers), the first six months of 2011 were somewhat more positive. The mild temperatures in winter prompted a 6 percent turnover growth over the first six months of this year, whereas turnover contracted nearly 9 percent in 2010. Turnover growth occurred across the entire construction sector.

Turnover developments construction sector

Turnover developments construction sector

Construction of roads, railways and tunnels contributes to recovery

In the first half of 2011, civil engineering companies generated a 6.3 percent turnover growth relative to the same period last year. Companies specialised in the construction of roads, railways and tunnels accounted for the increase. These companies realised a turnover growth over the first half of 2011 of nearly 13 percent.

Companies involved in the underground installation of cables and tubes realised only a very modest growth of 1 percent. The smallest turnover growth was in residential and non-residential building, mainly due to the faltering housing market and the high vacancy level on the office market. 

Turnover growth due to mild winter

Companies engaged in the construction of residential property, offices, hospitals, etc. realised a turnover growth of nearly 5 percent in the first half of 2011. The growth was predominantly achieved in the first quarter, when the mild weather conditions boosted the amount of hours worked by more than 13 percent. As a result, the first quarter turnover growth was nearly 10 percent. In the second quarter, turnover was hardly 1 percent.

The period of turnover decline, which had dominated the sector since the first quarter of 2009 when the effects of the recession became fully apparent in residential and non-residential building, came to an end in 2011. With a turnover share of 40 percent, residential and non-residential building is currently by far the most important branch in the construction sector.

Ambiguous prospects

As yet, it remains unclear how turnover in the construction sector will develop. The signs are ambiguous. Architectural firms received over 10 percent fewer new orders in the first quarter of this year, while the total building sum of granted building permits for residential and non-residential building projects increased nearly 25 percent. The housing market did not improve in the first six months of 2011. House sales dropped by nearly 3 percent relative to the same period last year.

Ron Duijkers