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Crane Spotting: Crane Survey Shows Regional Hotspots

The number of cranes you can spot across any one cityscape is a reliable indicator of the location’s construction activity, and often a sight that many attribute to large metropolises like London. While it’s easy to get caught up in market forecasts and predictions, cranes offer physical evidence of the actual state of the market – and an insight into how many construction jobs are available. Recent crane survey figures indicate that in many areas of the UK, construction activity is booming at levels not previously seen.

What Is A Crane Survey?

You would be forgiven for thinking a crane survey is an environmental requirement on a new build project, but the construction crane survey is something else entirely. Researchers literally count the number of tower cranes – the cranes most often used for high-rise construction – and then verify their field research with construction and real estate reports and project information.

UK Construction Market Outlook

South East

London is always a hive of construction activity and saw a record number of schemes completed during 2018, with 80 still projects under construction and 32 new projects started in Q4 2018 – approximately half of which are new builds. While new projects are not as high as past levels, it’s worth noting that the number of new projects in the capital is still higher than average. If you’re looking for quantity surveying jobs in London – or any other construction jobs – the market is still buoyant for the foreseeable future.

North West

Manchester is a residential growth hotspot, with record-breaking number of residential construction projects underway and the anticipated pipeline for the next three years is more than the city has seen in the last ten years combined. With 44 new projects started and 78 underway in Q1 alone, 2019 is going to be a good year for construction jobs in Manchester. Compared to the US and Canada, Manchester would rank second to Toronto according to figures published in Deloitte’s North American Crane Index.


For Birmingham, 2019 is going to set new heights – record levels of construction are underway thanks to HS2 and the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games. According to the crane survey, there are 54 projects under construction, with 23 started in Q1 2019 alone. Both the residential and office construction sectors are particularly busy, creating demand for quantity surveyors, estimators, commercial managers, and other building jobs in Birmingham.


Leeds is fast becoming a technology hub and growth area for technology start-ups, driving demand for increased commercial and office space. Two innovation hubs are also being developed in the city, with an eye on becoming a Smart City. With infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail on the horizon, development is being inspired by the potential opportunities that these projects will bring. In total, there were 21 new starts and 43 projects under construction in Q1 2019, creating more construction jobs in the North.

Find Your Next Construction Job

Wherever you want to work this year, there is bound to be a construction job available – as evidenced by the cranes in most major UK cities. Between new and ongoing infrastructure projects and the buoyant building sector, opportunities are available for civil engineers, quantity surveyors, estimators, project managers, construction managers – and crane operators! Browse our current opportunities (handily divided into regions,) or get in touch for a discussion about how Maxim can help you find your next role.

About the Author

Steve Thomas
Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada
I am responsible for the Maxim Recruitment office in the UK where our team of recruitment consultants specialise in the recruitment of quantity surveyors, commercial managers, delay, dispute and claims consultants for civil engineering and building contractors and specialist construction consultancies.  I am also responsible for growing our recruitment operation in Canada and the USA where we are increasingly busy.  I have over 20 years’ experience in construction recruitment and enjoy working on both contingency and search/headhunting assignments for our repeat clients.
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Email: steve@maximrecruitment.com

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