RED TAPE is costing small construction companies 21 weeks a year in lost production.
Contractors are now spending nearly twice the national average of 12 weeks form filling and complying with new bureaucracy and tax regulations.
The shock figures are contained in the latest Small Business Monitor survey by research specialist LexisNexis.
The results reveal that health and safety regulations are the biggest bane for 85 per cent of small construction companies, followed by environmental legislation at 50 per cent and tax rules at the same figure.
Jemma Macfadyen of LexisNexis said: 'In the area of employment alone, 22 UK regulations will come into force during 2004.'