Overall construction activity

Despite the war in Ukraine and its consequences, the construction sector in France showed resilience during the year 2022 with a growth of 1,9% at constant prices. However, this positive trend hides disparities between the building industry (+3,1%) and the public work sector (-2,0%).  

Despite two years of growth in 2021 and 2022, construction activity will remain 210% below its pre-crisis level in 2019. For 2023, the production growth rate should remain stable with a slight increase of 0,1 %.

In 2022, the sector has also experienced a massive creation of salaried jobs (+23 000). Nevertheless, employment is expected to stabilise in 2023 in the context of sluggish growth.


In 2022, the housebuilding production showed fairly good momentum with an increase of 2,8% in constant prices, but remained below its pre-crisis level (-3,4% compared to 2019). The growth in housebuilding activity is mainly due to the usual delays between permits, housing starts and production. 

Indeed, after an increase of 11,2% in 2021, housing starts fell slightly by 5.1% to reach 371 000 units, well below the level of 2019 (388 000 units) and only 10 000 above their long-term average. However, building permits will increase by 3,0% to reach a stock of 483 000 units. The Environmental Regulation (RE2020), which will come into force in January 2022, explains the boom in building permits submitted at the end of 2021 to avoid the additional constraints and costs of the forthcoming legislation.

For 2023, housing starts may drop by 8,6% due to a fall in permits. This decrease should result from the collapse of sales in 2022 because of a less favourable financial environment (higher interest rates and stricter banking regulations). Finally, housing starts should reach around 339 000 units. Thus, taking into account the usual production delays, housebuilding activity could fall by 2,6%, triggering a market reversal that would be much more pronounced in 2024 without greater public support.

Furthermore, the housing rehabilitation and maintenance market registered a 1,8% increase in 2022, at constant prices, allowing it to exceed its 2019’s level by 1,2%. For 2023, a growth by 1,8 % in volume is expected. Actually, the energy renovation’s market should accelerate moderately, mainly driven by three factors: (a) a slight increase in the credits allocated to the "MaPrimeRénov'" scheme, whose budget for 2023 should amount to almost € 2,5 billion; (b) a recovery of the energy saving certificates (CEE) market; and (c) an energy crisis, which may further encourage energy efficiency works. 

On the other hand, the volume of renovation works, other than energetic, is expected to slow down slightly, as households prioritise subsidised works in a difficult economic context.

Non-residential construction

After two years of low activity, the activity of non-residential buildings increased unexpectedly by 6,6% at constant prices in 2022 but remained 5,3% below the level of 2019. In addition, the surfaces started increased by 5,0% to reach 26,3 million square metres of floor areas. However, this level remains 5,2 million square metres below the long-term average. 

In 2023, the volume of non-residential building activity should slow by 1,7% and remain 3,7% below the level of 2019. Most markets should follow this general trend, with the exception of the stable office market (-0,3%) and the decline in agricultural buildings (-12,8%).

After a volume increase of 2,9% in 2022, the market for the renovation and maintenance of non-residential buildings is expected to grow by 2,2% in 2023, under the combined effect of the reintroduction of the tax credit for VSEs and SMEs carrying out green work on their buildings, the end of the recovery plan for the renovation of public buildings and the start of the new school renovation plan. For households, the energy crisis should also provide a strong incentive.

GDP 2022




Total investment in construction in 2022


Civil engineering

2022 was expected to be a good year for the French public works sector, as local government spending is expected to increase at this stage of the electoral cycle. On the contrary, its activity fell by around -2% (in real terms). On the supply side, the consequences of the war in Ukraine (on material and energy prices) led to a +9,7% increase in the production costs of public works. On the demand side, inflation led local authorities to hold off on launching projects in order to respect their initial budgets.

These two factors have had a real impact on output volumes in 2022 and, unless investment efforts by local authorities accelerate, this economic contraction will continue into 2023. It should be noted, however, that their financial situation is strong, which could be encouraging for next year.

Regarding overseas activity, exports amounted to €36 billion in 2021 and stood for 44% of the overall civil engineering turnover. French public work exports have almost doubled in 15 years. Although Europe remains the main export market (52% of total exports), French companies are increasingly targeting new markets (Africa, Oceania, Middle East, Latin America, etc.).

Prices of construction materials

After an increase of 4,6% in 2021, construction prices rise by 8,7% in 2022. As for costs, they will increase by 7,5% in 2022. This lower increase in costs than in prices should, on average, maintain the financial results of construction companies. 

With regard to material prices in particular, it is worth noting the strong increase in steel (+37,3%), bitumen (+33,7%) and cement (+15,7%). However, these developments are the result of different trends over the year. While bitumen and steel have started to decline since the end of 2022, cement has recently accelerated again.

Per cent variation of investment in real terms of previous year


Number of building permits in residential construction