Construction Material Shortage

Construction Material ShortageWhy Is There A Shortage Of Construction Materials In The UK?

Since 2020 there has been a shortage of many building materials around the UK, and even in 2021 the problem continues.

The reason seems to be twofold.

  • Lockdown – Since more people were at home, more people took the opportunity for doing DIY projects at home and internal renovations.
  • Capital Construction Projects – Large construction projects such as HS2 have put a demand on the construction materials supply

Brexit is being blamed by many suppliers as there is ‘uncertainty’ in the markets.  The war in Ukraine is also a popular reason for construction material shortages as is staffing issues caused by COVID.

Small building companies were also allowed to continue during lockdown, meaning that they were in demand for doing things like house extensions and roofing work.

Lots of people during the lockdowns turned to doing DIY around the house and gardens, meaning that retail suppliers were busy with people buying up building materials for DIY.

As well as a growth in demand for construction materials is the shortage of production caused by lockdown, a double edged sword as it were.

What Building Materials Are In Demand?

There is quite a wide range of building products that are in demand, with some suppliers limiting the number of products per purchase, rationing supply.

  • Paint
  • Cement
  • Timber
  • Steel
  • Electrical Components
  • Insulation
  • Screws & Fasteners

Suppliers such as Travis Perkins reported supply chain issues back in 2020 and it still continues.

Timber was the main shortage since most of the UK timber is imported.  This leads on to skyrocketing prices and very long lead times.

Cement production reduced by 11% in 2021 and bagged cement is still in short supply as the UK construction sector continues it’s high demand.

In 2020 British Steel stopped taking orders due to the seriously high demand, there are still ongoing shortages years on.

Fast fowards to 2024 and there is still supply chain issues.  Since the construction industry has not stopped, the industry has not been able to catch up so the shortages are predicted to continue for many years to come.

Price Rises Expected

Costs of building products are going up currently, by around 7% and further rises are also predicted.  Since we are still in lockdown, there is still a shortage of production of building products, yet still a demand from both domestic and capital projects.

Costs are being passed back to the customer, so homeowners getting quotes will see higher quotes due to the higher costs of materials.

Capital projects will see higher costs until supply chains go back to normal, which could take many months, or years.

This is a problem globally, as countries such as China and the US start up their own construction projects as their own vaccination programs open up trade again.

Build Our Way Out Of Lockdown

Build Build Build was the message from Boris Johnson in June 2020, as part of a huge reform since the building after the second world war.  However it is challenging to build anything without the materials available.

Also with the huge costs of lockdown, where is the money going to come from to Build Build Build?

Dangers For Small Building Firms

Lack of materials to complete jobs and higher material costs will cause major problems for builders and small construction companies all around the UK.

Even is people decide to postpone extensions or building work until the end of the shortages, this means that building companies go without work, which could result in company closures.

Many builders will turn to marketing, to ensure that new projects will continue to come through.  However the costs of additional marketing means their overall costs go up.

When Will Things Return To Normal?

The shortage of construction materials is a global issue, since all countries were in lockdown at pretty much the same time, everyone had the same idea.

It may well take months or even years for things to go back to normal, however like we have seen across all areas of our society, we have to adapt to the new normal.

We are now into 2024 and there is still no sighs that things will return to normal.  The new normal is sky high prices, long lead times and ongoing demand for construction materials.

Looking ahead another 4 years, will there still be sky high prices and construction material shortages?

Update In 2024

We are now into 2024, COVID is still with us although mortality rates are very low.  This was the same with the Black Death back in 1346-1353, the disease just fizzled out.

The construction industry supply lines are still struggling as the construction and building industry continue to build build build.

New homes are cropping up all over the country as the population continues to boom.  Illegal migrants are still coming over in small boats and disappearing into UK society.

There is still apparently a housing crisis, despite all the new houses being built and many offices being converted into flats.  Basingstoke is a great example with many of the town centre office complexes being converted into flats and apartments.

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