Of the four powerhouses that drive the construction industry, only new residential building continues to hold strong, peaking in 2006 with constant-value growth of 4.6%. All the other engines are experiencing a downturn, with the exception of residential maintenance which is showing a very slight recovery (+0.3%). Civil engineering has contracted by 1.1%, non-residential public building by 5.5% and non-residential private building by 3.9%.

The downturn is closely bound up with the difficulties in the public sector, which up until 2004 had played a dynamic role, exhibiting growth and, together with private residential building, driving the entire sector.

Between 2000 and 2004, the civil engineering sector achieved a 30% increase in constant-value investments. The same applies to the public building sector, which returned higher percentages during the period than even new private residential building. But in 2005 the sector suffered a downturn of more than five percentage points, a factor that proved critical for the entire construction sector, given that two of the four engines had already stalled: refurbishing in 2001 and private non-residential building in 2003.

The downturn has been confirmed for 2006 and 2007, albeit with much smaller contractions (down by 1% and 1.2% respectively).