The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)'s Future Trends Survey for August showed that confidence among UK practices has remained stable at "a very positive" balance figure of +28. The positive outlook was shared by the whole country, with every region returning a balance figure of above +20 - a significant improvement for Wales and the West, who last month were at a more reserved +12. "Sentiment about future workload prospects for the architects’ profession has been strong throughout 2013 and 2014, and we are now beginning to see this reflected in increased levels in the aggregate value of work in progress," said the RIBA, adding that the increasing workload is being "driven primarily by growth in the commercial and private housing sectors."
RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson said: “The most optimistic forecasts this month were from our practices in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Midlands and East Anglia, indicating that the high confidence levels have now spread right across the UK as all nations and regions begin to see an improving workload situation.” Figures from practices of all sizes were positive, with small practices (under 10 staff) returning a balance figure of +24. However, medium and large practices showed much more confidence, returning figures of +65 and +40 respectively.
Although a large part of the growth of the last year has been driven by housing, we may be about to see the sector reach a plateau, as the balance figure for the private housing market dropped to +23, down from +29 in July. This prediction now puts it level with the commercial sector, which rose from +20 in July.
The RIBA Staffing index also rose in August, rising to +13 from +10 in July. A full 96% of practices expect their staffing levels to either increase or stay consistent in the coming three months. But, adds the RIBA, "we are not yet seeing this confidence manifest itself in a significant increase in aggregate staffing levels across the profession."
The monthly survey is designed to “monitor the employment and business trends affecting the architectural profession throughout the period of economic downturn,” the data from which is analyzed by both the RIBA and the Fees Bureau. It is a “representative sample of the range of different practice sizes and geographical locations” with 1,600 British Architects from 226 firms contributing.
Read the June 2014 report in full here (PDF).