Materials Shortage & Rising Prices Causing Industry Chaos

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Shortage Of Materials and Rising Prices Causing Construction Industry Chaos

Demand is outstripping supply in construction.  The main causes are:

  • COVID-19
  • Housing shortages
  • Brexit
  • Suez Canal blockage
  • Higher import tariffs
  • DIY enthusiasts

All these factors have had an impact on the availability and price of materials. With the highest recorded demand in recent years for construction in both the public and private sectors, it is easy to see why the wait for roof tiles has gone from 2 weeks to 20 weeks. Building materials also increased in price by 25%-150% over the last twelve months.

The first three months of 2021 saw enquiries with local building firms increase at their fastest rate in a decade; fuelling significant difficulties with construction material shortages, according to new data from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The latest FMB State of Trade Survey found that workloads, enquiries and employment all grew in the period January to March 2021, with enquiries growing at their fastest pace in more than 10 years.

But at the same time, 38% of builders are struggling to hire bricklayers and 34% are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, up from 23% from the end of last year.

If you can manage to secure a builder, delays caused by factory closures and the demands of HS2 on suppliers (who, in some cases, have committed all their aggregate to the project), plus Brexit and the chaos caused in the Suez Canal earlier in the year, mean that you need to be looking 3 – 6 months in advance to organise supply with your builder and merchant.

How can you avoid the shortages?

“Don’t just turn up at your builder’s merchants and expect materials to be on the shelf” says John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the Builders Merchants Federation.  Newcomb also suggests looking at alternatives such as composite decking instead of timber and clay roof tiles as an alternative to concrete.

Buying reclaimed materials is another way to avoid the shortages and can save you money.

However you decide to source the materials, be aware that prices may still rise and make sure you have a contract in place with your builder that determines who is taking the risk.  A quote today for £15,000 may be closer to £20,000 when the job is completed, and without a contract, there can be costly legal disputes further down the road.

Perhaps the wisest thing is to wait.  With the Government using construction as a catalyst for the economy post pandemic, once things have opened up, people’s focus may shift from the lockdown renovations to other things and the market will return to a more normal footing.


For further information, please contact Ed or Kelly on 01284 365345 or email /

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