The rise in confidence comes despite the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index slipping to 52.8 in December from 53.4 in November.
Subdued demand hit the index in December with commercial construction a particular drag.
Work on civil engineering projects was the strongest performing area of construction activity at the end of 2018, with growth the fastest for just over one-and-a-half years.
Tim Moore, Economics Associate Director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey said: “Civil engineering was the stand-out area of construction growth in December, with activity rising at the fastest pace since May 2017.
“Survey respondents also noted that the strengthening infrastructure pipeline is set to become a key engine of growth in 2019, despite concerns about possible delays to the delivery of major projects.
“An expected boost from transport and energy projects underpinned a rise in business optimism to
an eight-month high in December.
“Construction sector confidence was also helped by softer input cost inflation and signs of a turnaround in supply chain difficulties from the low point seen last August.
“However, levels of optimism remained subdued in relation to those recorded by the survey over much of the past six years, largely reflecting concerns that Brexit uncertainty will continue to encourage delays with decision-making, especially on commercial projects.”