Architects’ growth stymied as funding is restricted

UK architects are not expecting any improvement in their workload, new statistics reveal.

Findings from the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) monthly Future Trends Survey reveals a mixed opinion in different UK locations and sectors as financing becomes harder to secure.

The survey’s Workload Index for July 2012 stands at 0, up from -2 the month before, but indicating no immediate improvement projected.

On a regional basis, London architects are the most optimistic about their future workload with a balance figure of +10. Elsewhere, in Scotland the figure stands at -20 and in Northern Ireland a reading of -60 makes them the most pessimistic.

Further findings show that despite a neutral balance being recorded and 26 per cent of architects questioned saying that they have been under-employed in the previous month, practices are predicting that staffing levels will be able to be maintained.

Mark Ruthven, founder of London-based architecture practice Studio Mark Ruthven, says that he has noticed a falling off in the high-end private residential workload he normally secures.

He adds, ‘Funding bodies like banks are being particularly risk averse when it comes to providing money for projects that historically would have attracted investment.

‘Banks are also imposing significant additional costs on projects in the form of extended and increased professional indemnity (PI) cover for design consultants, along with onerous collateral warranties.’

All four of our sector forecasts surveyed remain relatively unchanged for July. The commercial sector forecast increased modestly from -4 to -2 while the community sector forecast increased from -11 to -7. The private housing sector forecast (balance figure zero) also improved marginally and the public sector forecast remained at -11.

Adrian Dobson, director of practice at the RIBA, says that the body’s members are continuing to report ‘intense fee competition’ and lack of project financing.

He adds, ‘The situation clearly remains very patchy with some practices describing conditions to be extremely challenging whilst others report full order books.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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