How has the latest crisis hit the built environment industry?

Anecdotal reports are starting to trickle out that the current crisis is starting to bite into architectural and multi-discipline firms around the world from USA, Europe and Australia. It’s not just the multi-nationals who are hurting but local firms also.

Many of the large multi-national firms are starting to lay off staff as projects are being put on hold or starting to dry up. This is due to the financial crises with credit being hard to obtain for starting new projects and many development companies having their market capitilisation slashed by the falling stockmarkets. 

The housing bubbles in USA, Europe and China are starting to burst with housing prices dropping, auction clearances heading into single figures and consumer confidence down as access to credit gets tighter with many people are putting off buying new property.

When will the crisis end? Many are saying that it is merely a 6–8 month pause in booming countries such as China where developers from Hong Kong have placed projects on hold until mid-2009. Others say this is the just the start of the bottom and the final outcome won’t be known until mid-late 2009 when the market will fully know the issues and problems and that the credit card and car loan defaults are yet to come in the next few months.

Some seem certain that the market will contract, there will be lay offs and competition will get harder for all who are looking for new projects.

So what is the ‘silver lining’ of the crisis?
Clients of current projects will be the winners as the levels of service will increase and projects will have the design and detail resolution that is often lack in boom periods.

Many architecture and multi-discipline firms are starting to look for other sources of revenue income and use some of their cash reserves to head to China and UAE(as visits to existing companies by newcomers to the market are up). However they could be in for a rude surprise by some accounts that staff in major developing cities in China and UAE are also seeing a slowdown due to the crisis.

Those firms who only lay off small numbers and then take this slow time to start training key staff to be better prepared and ready for when the market turns up. Many firms complain about the lack project managment and people management skills in by their upper and middle management well here is the opportune time to train key staff and up and comers to prepare your firm for the future.

How is the crisis hitting your firm or employer? Leave comments below.