Across the Southeast, overall contracting activity is definitely picking up the pace. But a still uneven construction market is enabling those firms that aim to make the most of the strong residential sector to race ahead of the pack.

In this year's Southeast Top Contractors survey—which reflects 2014 revenue from the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina—respondents collectively reported approximately $2.7 billion in revenue from residential projects, or about $1 billion more than the year prior. At the same time, revenue from such sectors as health care, educational, government and manufacturing all showed declines.

Florida was a particularly active market, with survey respondents reporting $9.3 billion in Sunshine State revenue last year, an increase of nearly $1 billion over 2013.

As a result, some firms indicated significant—and for a few, staggering—year-over-year increases. Miami-based Plaza Construction, for instance, saw its 2014 revenue jump by 135.8% over 2013, resulting in a 16th overall ranking. Meanwhile, another South Florida firm, Coastal Construction Group, experienced an 87.4% increase, placing it fifth overall.

But evidently it's not just South Florida that's getting busier. Health care builder Robins & Morton saw revenue jump by 41.7%. JE Dunn Construction Group reported a 37.9% gain, while DPR Construction's income grew 35% and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. experienced a 33.4% improvement. Other firms trending up significantly included Holder Construction Co., Turner Construction Co. and Choate Construction Co., all of which reported gains of more than 25%.

Overall, though, this year's Top Contractors ranking revealed a more moderate increase for the Southeast as a whole. The number of firms participating in the survey—historically, a market bellwether of its own—actually declined, although slightly.

Collectively, contractors reported just over $21.1 billion in 2014 revenue from the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, a roughly 5.9% increase over last year's $19.9 billion.

Also, as ENR Southeast noted in an April blog post previewing this year's ranking, the biggest firms appear to be growing at a faster clip than other regional contractors.

For instance, this year's top 10 firms collectively reported slightly more than $7.9 billion in Southeast revenue, an increase of about 11.2% over last year's top 10. By comparison, contractors not ranked in the top 10 collectively reported about $13.1 billion in revenue, a gain of 2.4% from a year ago.

The Southeast: 'Clearly Stronger'

Contractors interviewed by ENR Southeast agree that the region's construction activity is increasing, with potential for further gains in the near future.

"Business activity is showing signs of steady improvement throughout the Southeast United States and is clearly stronger than it was this time one year ago," says Jeff Stone, COO with Brasfield & Gorrie, this year's No. 1-ranked contractor.