Activity levels across all sectors both large and small are very busy at the moment. The smaller contractors have work for the next 3-4 months but after that the orders at the moment are at more normal levels. Which is what you would expect from the 1-5 employee sized contractor. The private market seems to have confidence with a lot of people spending their discretionary spend on property maintenance and improvements. The new housing market is very strong and this is mainly being driven by the shortage of available properties on the market. New housebuilding has to increase dramatically over the next few years to cope with the rising levels of demand. In a post-Covid world we expect this demand to be very strong as Guernsey and the Bailiwick have had a better Covid than 95% of the rest of the world and is therefore a very attractive place to locate to.
We are seeing some really good long-term planning and work pipeline in the infrastructure sector (Gsy Water, telecoms etc) and are seeing tentatively some movement on infrastructure projects from central SoG, albeit these are all small projects (sub £250k) and there is still a total absence of any cohesive planning on SoG’s infrastructure spend. The industry is desperate to have input into and sight of the islands building and infrastructure plans to ensure that we can increase our skills and resources to match the requirements over the next 18 months to enable as much work as possible to be awarded to local businesses which will be to everybody’s benefit.
Supply chain of materials is also an issue at present but that is driven mainly by Covid-affected manufacturing and logistics from further afield and the increased activity in the UK Construction market. The lack of some basic products or longer lead times is slowing down the work that can be done on site so it’s not just the volumes of work that are causing longer than usual project commencement times and contractor availability.
So in summary we are extremely busy at the moment and we need more construction workers in the short term by a relaxation of the borders and we need to increase our own on-island capabilities through more training and development of our workforce dependant on the construction requirements of the States and the islands as a whole.
Please bear in mind though that all construction companies have completely lost 2-3 months of any kind of activity during the last 12 months or 25% of revenue due to the 2 pandemic lockdowns and this has put huge pressure on the financial income and cash-flow of all businesses both large and small. Materials and labour are usually paid for in advance of any sums received by contractors so we are all a long way behind any normal years in terms of profitability and financial performance.
The industry needs to be busy to be able to recover fully and become strong again just as much as the Bailiwick with all the investments needed in housing and infrastructure needs a strong & equipped Construction Industry.