Summary of sectors and main participants
The UK construction industry is extremely diverse and has around 3.1 million people working within it. In general terms approximately a quarter of its output is in the public and third sectors (construction for local and national government, not-for profit organisations, etc.) and approximately three-quarters of the output is in the private sector.
In 2017, the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) published an analysis of the industry, entitled Industry Insights. It concluded that the proportions of UK construction activity could be allocated by sub-sector as follows:
- Public housing - 4%
- Private housing - 18%
- Infrastructure - 15%
- Public non-housing - 7%
- Industrial - 3%
- Commercial - 18%
- Housing Repair & Maintenance - 18%
- Non-housing Repair & Maintenance - 17%
The industry’s workers cover a wide range of professions and trades, from architects, engineers, and main contractors to a wide range of specialist contractors in fields such as roofing, bricklaying, flooring, demolition, asbestos removal, shopfitting, etc. Each of these professional and trades groups are dominated by small to medium-sized businesses. Our database of 180+ construction trade associations, representing the individual professions and trades, can be downloaded here.
The diverse range of sub-sectors can be categorised under four main sectors as follows:
1. Building and Civil Engineering Contractors
Contracting (including sub-contracting) is the largest sub-sector of the industry accounting for approximately 70% of the industry’s jobs. It includes all sizes of business operation, from major contracting and developing companies with international interests to single person enterprises undertaking domestic repairs.
Please consult our database of 180+ construction trade associations (see above), representing the individual professions and trades, for information on the individual representative bodies. The umbrella group representing the interests of professional, including contracting, organisations and associations is:
2. Specialist Sub-contractors
It has been estimated that specialist sub-contractors undertake about 45% of all contracting work in the UK, ranging from structural precast concrete and steel-work through to mechanical/electrical services and finishes. The sector was formerly represented by The National Specialist Contractors' Council, which subsequently became part of a larger umbrella group representing 11,500 members:
Consultants in the UK construction industry undertake responsibility for all aspects of the planning, design, cost control and project management involved in the construction process, with most having influence on the selection/specification of materials, products and services. Key consulting professions involved in the specification of building products, materials and services include:
- Architects Building Services Engineers
- Building Surveyors Town Planners
- Quantity Surveyors Interior Designers
- Civil/Structural Engineers
Many large practices in the UK have expanded to become multi-discipline and offer complete design & build construction services, undertaking responsibility for all stages of the development from concept design to project management and completion.
There are many individual bodies representing the industry’s specific consulting professions. Please consult our database of 180+ construction trade associations (see above). Collectively, these associations and their members are represented by the following umbrella group:
4. Building Product & Material Suppliers/Manufacturers
Businesses in this sector represent a wide and diverse range of organisations from large quarrying companies and suppliers/producers of mass-produced products to small highly specialised manufacturers. There are over 140 trade bodies representing the individual interests of this sector and, collectively, they are represented by the following:
The following list details the main project fields in which the industry’s participants operate, and therefore this represents the main project sectors targeted by established suppliers of products and services in the UK. In general terms, most new and established product suppliers will wish to target most project sectors in their UK marketing and promotional campaigns:
Central Government & Agencies