Northern Ireland remains the quietest region in the UK for construction work, a report has said.
Research from The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) showed building continued to slow in the final months of 2010, with more surveyors here reporting falling workloads than anywhere else in the UK.
The news came days after the Belfast Telegraph revealed that property firms the Carvill Group and Jermon Developments Ltd are in serious financial difficulties.
RICS's survey shows that all sectors of construction are declining, with confidence in the industry in the doldrums.
Private industrial, private commercial and public non-housing were the worst hit. But a slight improvement seen between the second and third quarters of last year did continue in the final quarter.
RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, Jim Sammon, said the survey's results came as no major surprise, particularly with the severe weather experienced in December.
But he added: "Whilst the outlook remains very challenging, there are things that can be done to create an enabling environment for the construction sector.
"These include the fast-tracking of economically important planning applications, and introducing domestic water charging to help ensure that money is available for capital spending.
"The reform of public sector procurement also needs to continue to enhance transparency and maximise awareness of the opportunities for local suppliers and contractors."