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Construction Material Shortages Could Delay UK Housebuilding

Concerns are growing for the UK’s housebuilding and construction industry as a shortage of key construction materials has builders struggling for supplies, which will inevitably cause delays and difficulties for developments and projects of all sizes.

According to PBC Today, the industry is facing delays of roofing supplies and timber and it continues to be affected by shortages of power tools, screws and fixings, stemming from congestion at UK ports. Companies now face increased shipping costs because of a global shortage of empty containers. Timber prices are also up by a fifth.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) said if the problems were not resolved it could “have an impact on the number of houses that we are able to build in the UK” as well as cause delays to smaller projects, such as extensions and loft conversions.

“I wouldn’t say it’s having a major impact on contractors and housebuilders yet,” said John Newcomb, the BMF’s chief executive. “But it could do over the next couple of months because clearly, you can’t build houses without roof tiles.”

Newcomb added that the most pressing issue at the moment is that demand for products such as roof tiles is outstripping the supplies, and while it will balance out, much of similar issues are due to the closure of manufacturers in the first national lockdown.

The BMF said there continued to be shortages of plumbing materials and bathroom suites that come from East Asia due to the problems at major container ports, which are struggling to cope with a combination of high container volumes and coronavirus restrictions.

While three-quarters of building materials are manufactured in the UK, Newcomb added that the industry needs access to ‘goods from around the world to keep the industry running’.

Shipping costs from China to Europe have also hit record highs in recent weeks, with producers unable to absorb the huge price increases.

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