The recovery in workloads is now very much a nationwide trend with balance figures positive in all nations and regions of the UK; with the highest figures found again in Northern Ireland (+67) and Scotland (+57).
Small practices with 1-10 staff remain positive about the outlook for future work, with a balance figure of +23, but medium-sized (11-50 staff) and large-sized practices (51+ staff) are considerably more hopeful for the next quarter with balance figures of +61 and +80 respectively.
The most positive sector remains the private housing market with workload forecasts increasing from +25 in December 2014 to +33 in January 2015. However, the commercial sector workload forecast declined from +17 in December 2014 to +13 in January 2015.
In the main, architectural practices are positive, with strong growth in one-off housing, housing for private retail, office and hotel sectors.
The retail element of the commercial sector remains more subdued however.
The RIBA also releases quarterly results tracking the overall value of work-in-progress year-on-year. In January 2015, practice workloads were six per cent higher than in the corresponding quarter of 2014.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also remains in strongly positive territory at +14 in January 2015, with only four per cent of practices anticipating a fall in permanent staffing levels over the next quarter.
Adrian Dobson, director of practice, RIBA, said: “This month’s results present a slightly mixed picture; however, uncertainty around the imminent General Election is probably contributing to practices being more circumspect about future workload levels in the public and third-sector work.
“We have seen a steady decrease in the number of our respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed in the last month, and this suggests that most of the spare capacity retained within the profession during the recession is now being productively employed.
“We therefore anticipate more substantial growth in overall employment levels in 2015.
“Anecdotal commentary received continues to suggest a continuing strengthening of the market for architects’ services.
“Although we are not yet recording a dramatic increase in overall staffing levels, we are seeing evidence of some practices encountering difficulties in attracting new staff with the right mix of skills and experience.”