A survey of 1,570 tradespeople from across the UK, most of them sole traders, found that 48% expect to see their workload increase over the next two months; 45% expect it to remain the same; just 7% see any fall coming.
More than two thirds (61%) expect their materials purchasing requirements to increase over the next two months.
Domestic repairs, maintenance and improvement works (RMI) is seen as the driver of workloads by 71% of respondents.
The survey, commissioned by builders’ merchant Travis Perkins, provides a snapshot of the nation’s small builders, electricians, plumbers, joiners and other tradespeople likely to pass through its doors.
It found that tradespeople are beginning to see more interest in projects specifically designed to reduce energy consumption in the home, with more than two thirds seeing some interest in projects such as insulation – 18% said that they had seen a lot of interest in such projects, 51% a little and 31% none at all.
The impact of rising petrol and diesel costs has also altered how the UK’s tradespeople are operating, with eight in 10 saying they have changed how they do business. This includes passing on higher fuel costs to customers when pricing projects (39%), choosing to work more locally (31%), and requesting that products be delivered rather than collected (29%).
Tradespeople are also increasingly turning towards technology to help them combat higher prices at the pumps, with 12% saying that they are holding more virtual visits with clients instead of visiting them in person. Only 6% said that they have decided to invest in more fuel-efficient cars, vans or lorries. One in five said that they had not changing their working behaviour or practices at all in response to higher petrol/diesel prices.
Commenting on the results of the survey, Travis Perkins chief executive Nick Roberts said: “Having met the challenges posed by the pandemic head on, the resilience of the UK’s tradespeople continues to be tested, and they are, once again, having to adapt their businesses to deal with other challenges facing the wider economy. Nevertheless, they remain confident in the outlook for their businesses and, while many are having to adjust how they operate to deal with rising fuel prices, the increased demand for projects that improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock is encouraging.
"With one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe, the UK’s ambition of achieving net zero carbon by 2050 depends on remedial activity, which will lower the heating bills today and decarbonise our homes for the future. Along with housebuilders and developers, it is the UK’s army of tradespeople who will ultimately make this happen and, as the leading partner to the UK construction sector, we are ready to work in partnership with them to help deliver this vision.”