Industry analysts Glenigan confirm the strong turnaround in construction's fortunes with non residential construction showing a second consecutive quarter of growth for the first time since 2010.
Civil engineering showed a 41% rise in the number of projects started last year compared to 2012 and retail starts were double the level of a year previously during the final quarter of 2012.
Education was a sharply improving sector with a 35% rise in the number of projects started while retail starts doubled. The Glenigan Index for December was up 15% year on year as commercial construction activity accelerates.
The Glenigan survey shows strong growth in retail, office and industrial sectors. The value of non residential projects was up 21%, led by commercially funded and education projects. Office construction is 20% up on a year ago and industrial construction rose almost 15%.
Retail starts in the final quarter of 2013 were 35% ahead of a year previously. Civil engineering was one of the fastest growing sectors, with starts 41% higher due to growth in infrastructure and utilities projects. Glenigan expects civil engineering to remain buoyant during 2014 and further growth is expected particularly from renewable energy projects after December's announcement of renewable energy 'strike' prices.
In contrast, health and community and amenity spending fell due to a squeeze in government spending. Social housing was up 23% but private housing starts fell after a strong 2012.
Glenigan's Economics Director Allan Wilén said: "Our expectations for construction activity are positive, in line with the brightening economic outlook. However recent consumer data has underlined the importance of business investment to sustaining a recovery that has been based so far on consumer spending."