Construction output in September rose to its highest level in seven months, according to the latest Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey.

The PMI survey registered 59.9 in September, up from 57.3 the previous month and well above the neutral 50.0 threshold which separates expansion from contraction.

Housebuilding was the best-performing category of construction activity in September and was the strongest for 12 months, which some survey respondents attributed to the launch of development projects that had been delayed earlier in 2015.

Commercial construction activity also rose sharply in September, with the pace of growth accelerating to a seven-month high.

Meanwhile, civil engineering activity increased for the fifth consecutive month and the rate of expansion picked up to its fastest since February.

Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI, said: “Construction firms enjoyed a strong finish to the third quarter of 2015, as a sustained rebound in new development projects continued to have an impact on the ground.

“September data suggests that the UK construction sector is still experiencing its most intense cycle of job hiring for at least 15 years, and consequently skill shortages remain a dominant concern across the industry.”

The Construction Product Association’s State of Trade Survey for the third quarter of 2015 also indicated continued progress with construction product manufacturers’ sales increasing for a tenth consecutive quarter. Growth was held back by weakness in exports, but manufacturers continue to be optimistic over prospects for the next 12 months.

Rebecca Larkin, the association’s economist, said: “We have now seen ten quarters of sustained growth reported by construction product manufacturers, led by demand from the private housing, industrial and infrastructure sectors.”