AWMS Comment: Q3 2019

John Coe, Commercial Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage.

Quarter three was challenging. Despite two reasonable performances in July and September, August was slow, suffering delays in project starts, Brexit uncertainty, holidays and poor weather.

Prolonged wet weather in October and November, with severe flooding in some areas, is further evidence of a changing climate and Britain’s lack of readiness for it. It’s particularly concerning that climate change scientists seem to have undercooked their forecasts rather than exaggerating them, as sceptics have accused. Aspects of climate change appear to be accelerating, and the Government identifies flooding as one of the six biggest climate change risks to the UK. However, actions to mitigate the effects lag behind. For example, not only were many recently flooded houses built on flood plains, but many more are in the planning pipeline.

New regulations coming into force April 2020 aim to keep rainwater out of the sewerage system, using sustainable drainage systems (SuDS). The rules will help accelerate the adoption of SuDS by developers by smoothing the transfer of ownership and responsibility to water companies once developments are complete.

Whether it’s a water management solution for individual buildings, developments, towns or wider, we need joined-up solutions. As an example of non-joined up thinking, residents in a recently flooded town downstream from Sheffield blamed new flood defences installed to protect the city for displacing their flooding on to them. AWMS (Alumasc Water Management Solutions) was itself formed a few years ago from separate brands to provide joined-up water management solutions for buildings, every step of the way from rain to drain.

The Brexit extension to the end of January and resulting uncertainty with clients is a problem that affects the entire supply chain. Concerns over import and export tariffs, labour and material shortages compound a reluctance by clients to ‘press go’ on larger projects while the outcome is uncertain.

Enquiry levels are healthy which suggests there is work in the pipeline and, looking to Q4, October has been a good month across all AWMS business units. However, we believe this is more of a timing issue than an indication of an uplift in market activity.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.