Irish Building and Construction industry production indices are out for Q4 2014 and full year 2014, so here is a quick look.
- All building and construction activity rose 6% y/y in Q4 2014 by value and 4.5% y/y by volume.Compared to series low, value is up 55% and volume is up 51%. However, compared to historical peak, value is down 70.2% still and volume is down 71.8%. Thus, the annual rise is not impressive: single digit growth off the base that is so low, we are still 36.3% below Q4 2000 in value and 52.8% below Q4 2000 in volume. Worse, Q4 2014 marks the slowest annual growth in value and volume since Q1 2013.
- Building ex-civil engineering index is up 9.8% y/y in Q4 2014 in value terms and is up 8.6% in volume terms. The series still trend 76% below historical peak in value terms and down 78 in volume terms. Compared to Q4 2000, the series are down 51.3% in value terms and 64% below in volume terms.
- Residential building production is up massive 36.9% y/y in value terms and 35.2% in volume terms. Again, however, the base of activity is low: the series are still down 76.0% on peak in value terms and down 88.9% in volume terms. Compared to Q4 2000, residential building activity is down 70.6% in value terms and down 79.3% in volume terms.
- Non-residential building activity fell 3.9% y/y in Q4 2014 in value terms and is down 5.17% in volume terms. The series are 15.3% below Q4 2000 levels of activity in value terms and are down 30.4% in volume terms.
- Civil engineering activity - the only area of activity where we have been performing relatively better over recent years - posted a decline of 1.6% y/y in Q4 2014 in terms of value of activity and a drop of 2.88% y/y in terms of volume of activity. However, compared to Q4 2000, the series still run 64% ahead in terms of value and 20.6% up in terms of volume.
On annual basis, 2014 was a better year for value of activity compared to volume.
- Across all building and construction sub-sectors, activity in 2014 was up 9.36% y/y in terms of value of production and up 8.29 in terms of volume. Both value and volume y/y growth rates were weaker in 2014 compared to 2013. Relative to annual averages for 2000-20002 period, activity across all sectors of construction is down 47% in value terms and down 58.7% in volume terms.
- Residential building activity in 2014 rose 19.0% y/y in value terms (improving on 11.5% growth in 2013) and by 17.5% in volume terms (also improving on 10.8% growth in 2013). However, as with quarterly figures earlier, activity is growing of extremely low base. Compared to 2000-2002 annual averages, 2014 activity in this sub-sector is still down 78.3% in value terms and down 69.0% in volume terms.
- Non-residential construction activity is up 8.3% y/y in value terms in 2014 (much worse than 19.4% rise recorded in 2013) and in volume terms activity is up 7.2% (also worse than 18.5% rise in 2013). Full year 2014 activity is still well below 2000-2002 annual averages (down 21.4% in value terms and down 31.7% in volume terms).
- Some welcome improvements in the building and construction sector, driven primarily by residential construction activities, but coming off extremely low base of activity in 2013.
- Key issue is how much of 2014 activity uplift was driven by planning permissions secured prior to major regulatory changes that are holding back current permissions activity.
- Another key issue is the apparent significant slowdown in 2014 rates of growth in activity compared to 2013 rates of growth.
- Third issue: despite still low levels of activity in the sector, builders appear to be chasing higher margins on price / value side, instead of lower cost projects.Thus value of activities is rising faster than volume for the second year in a row. If this scenario is sustained into 2015, we are unlikely to see construction sector gains translating into alleviating price appreciation pressures in the rental and house purchasing markets.