Builders in Oxfordshire at last see light at the end of recession tunnel

Michael Puttick, managing director of building firm Kingerlee

Michael Puttick, managing director of building firm Kingerlee

First published in News
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Business and Property Reporter

AFTER banging their heads against a brick wall, Oxfordshire’s builders can see light at the end of the tunnel.

The construction industry has been in the doldrums for the past six years but new figures show it is on the up.

According to the Construction Products Association, which represents building materials manufacturers, it will grow by 22 per cent during the next five years.

Local firms say they have been protected by the wealth of the University’s colleges and private schools, which have carried on splashing out on extensions despite the downturn.

Now the property market is booming, home owners are spending more. But the CPA does not expect the market to return to pre-recession levels until 2017.

One of the problems is big, national firms undercutting on price, or ‘suicide bidding’, to net plum contracts.

David Nelms, of Wheatley-based Oxford Construction Company, saw his fees slashed by up to 60 per cent.

He said: “Other builders were pricing so low, we couldn’t compete.

“Some of the big builders were losing money on jobs, just to keep their guys working.

“Smaller firms were forced to lower our daily rates and ours fell from £180 to £100.

“When you are running vans and have to pay insurance, that’s a nightmare.

“And the cost of materials is going up so much, where we used to put a six-month limit on quotes, we changed it to one month.

“Prices are creeping back up but they are still not where we’d like them to be.”

Mark Beard, managing director of Beard Construction, has taken on 55 new staff during the past 18 months at the firm’s bases in Cumnor Hill, Swindon and Guildford.

He said: “Things picked up last spring and that’s down to the economy but also driven by house builders, who have bounced back.”

Michael Puttick, managing director of Kidlington building firm Kingerlee, which is tackling a £9m extension project for Abingdon School and built a new £35m quadrangle at St John’s College, called on the Government to give local firms more chance to win contracts for health centres and academies, which he says are snapped up by national contractors.

He said: “The Government talks about giving small and medium-sized contractors an opportunity but we get very little.

“This isn’t sour grapes, it’s reality.”

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor: What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter for publication here

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.

Latest Business news

Roadworks, congestion and lack of modern offices driving businesses from city centre

Oxford Mail:

8:09am Friday 24th April 2015

ONLY one in 10 business bosses would choose to base their operation in Oxford, according to a new survey.

High house prices are limiting growth of county’s economy

Oxford Mail:

1:06pm Thursday 23rd April 2015

In crisis: Chamber of Commerce chief says businesses find it difficult to recruit staff

More rural homes to receive superfast broadband

Oxford Mail:

1:03pm Thursday 23rd April 2015

An extra 260 households in West Oxfordshire will not be missing out on high-speed broadband thanks to a new deal...

Business first for Queen's Awards haul

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 22nd April 2015

BUSINESS leaders have hailed Oxfordshire as an international hotspot after seven firms won Queen’s Awards for overseas trading.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree