Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Johannesburg - The FNB/BER building confidence index rose to 52 points in the first quarter of 2014, the first time since 2007 that it has been above 50, First National Bank said on Tuesday.

“...Non-residential building activity accelerated nicely during the quarter, while that of the residential sector slowed,” said FNB economist John Loos in a statement.

“This likely reflects increased pressure on households amid high levels of debt and the higher interest rate environment.”

Main contractor confidence rose marginally from 47 to 49 index points during the quarter.

“The increase in overall confidence was mainly due to a rise in residential contractor confidence while the confidence of non-residential contractors declined (from 57 to 50 index points),” said Loos.

“However, the underlying activity data suggests that the non-residential sector continues to outperform the residential sector.”

In the fourth quarter of last year the FNB/BER building confidence index stood at 48 points.

Loos said there was a surprise increase in architect and quantity surveyor activity in the first quarter of 2014 suggesting that the recovery in the building sector had not yet lost steam. - Sapa