THE RISE in tender prices stalled during the third quarter of last year, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Experts at the institution are blaming fears of a recession and the strength of sterling.
But figures for the year show that overall growth in tender prices has outstripped inflation, hitting 4.3 per cent.
Wages are seen as the main cause of higher prices. Workers' pay rose 5 per cent, on average, compared with a 1.2 per cent jump in materials costs.
Demand for new construction work is expected to increase until the end of the year, although the growth rate will slow, before picking up again in 2000.
Chris Powell, the institution's construction spokesman, said: 'Now is the time for new construction and refurbishment work. With stable costs, businesses can enhance their property assets.'