Builders pessimistic about future prospects

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Builders are less optimistic about their trading conditions than other sections of industry.

The latest business confidence poll by Stellenbosch University's Bureau of Economic Research plunged into further gloom, with the release of the figures for the second quarter of 2008.

The bureau's index was 45 points, indicating the majority of businesses are pessimistic and do not expect to grow.

A 21 point nosedive in confidence from the building industry, one of five sectors canvassed for the business confidence index, dragged overall business confidence down three points from the first quarter.

This swung builders from an optimistic 68 points last quarter to a pessimistic 47 because of rising costs for materials, higher interest rates and problems with Eskom. The drop represents an eight year low in building confidence.

Colin de Kock, executive director of the Master Builders' Association, said: "The price of steel has doubled since February, and cement and other materials have also gone up."

Builders have also been hit by delays in granting electricity certificates for new developments because of Eskom's mismanagement.

"Builders who specialise in residential developments have been particularly hard hit," De Kock said.