The bellwether IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index dropped to 44.4 in December from 45.3 in November.
It was below the crucial 50 no-change mark for the eighth consecutive month making the current period of falling business activity the longest recorded by the survey for almost a decade.
Civil engineering was the worst performer with activity falling at the fastest pace since March 2009.
But construction companies indicated that their optimism towards the year-ahead business outlook rebounded to a nine-month high.
A number of firms suggested that greater clarity in relation to Brexit had the potential to boost order books in 2020.
Tim Moore, Economics Associate Director at IHS Markit said: “The forward-looking survey indicators provide some hope that the construction sector malaise will begin to recede in the coming months.
“Latest data indicated that the downturn in order books remains much less severe than the low point seen last August, which has already helped to bring employment numbers closer to stabilisation.
“Moreover, construction companies signalled that business optimism has recovered to its strongest for nine months.
“Survey respondents cited confidence that a more predictable domestic political landscape and clarity on Brexit could deliver a much-needed boost to clients’ willingness-to-spend in 2020.”