I've got to admit it's getting better........

Blog — 03 Feb 2014

“You’ve got to admit its getting better, (It can’t get no worse)”

Paul McCartney’s optimism was always tempered by John Lennon’s more sceptical view of life. And as I re-read this blog, Lennon’s pragmatism came to mind.

The New Year has started as the old year ended, very busy indeed. It is no bad thing, and we do seem to be seeing a marked change in the economy. As always in our profession the good times are never straightforward, we will see inflation in the construction industry this year, and there is already a shortage of bricks as well as bricklayers, good architectural staff will be harder to find and it won’t be any easier to negotiate our fees.

History demonstrates that despite the best efforts of Chancellors past and present, bust will surely follow boom. We have been through three major recessions in our careers, and in hindsight, whilst painful, they are a necessary purge, a detox, they bring us back to reality, they reduce the inflated values of property and allow investors with a long term view back into the market.

London is a global capital, and overseas investors see it as a safe haven, this has pushed up values and introduced a lot of wealth to the London economy. As vast areas of the globe show no sign of long term political or economic stability the London market has still got legs. But in the long run I can’t see this current boom being any different. London’s residential market is distorted by these buyers, and as a result the politicians are reacting by increased meddling, and taxation, and trying to influence how the market operates. If the past is anything to go by, by the time they enforce these measures the economy will have shifted and their vote catching taxes will kill off growth.

The cyclical nature of the construction industry is something we have been thinking about a lot as we have just finished a book about the thirty year life of our practice. It is written by an old university friend, Mark Dudek, and the highs and lows of being in this business are laid bare. We learned the hard way, but as long as you are prepared and you understand that the hard times always follow the good times, your business can ride out the recessions.

So enjoy the good times, we have waited long enough, it will be a good year for most architects, and we at Stiff+Trevillion have a lot to look forward to. Our Book “practicing architecture” is out at the end of February. I think that it will be a good read, it is not really a monograph, it is the story of our practice. It has been a valuable exercise to reflect on who helped us and what shaped the business we have today. Inevitably it comes down to a handful of very special people, and our book is as much about them as it is about us.