The UK is facing a major shortage of 5 key construction materials. This is bad news considering the massive growth the trade sector has enjoyed throughout the pandemic. Activity levels in the construction sector are said to be at a 7 year high! Inevitably this rise in demand has led to a rise in costs due to the lagging supply. Uncertainties surrounding Brexit have only added to the difficulties as much of the materials used in the UK come from Europe. There are currently 5 key items in serious short supply:
Fortunately, most cement is manufactured within the UK. However, a significant factor affecting supply is driver shortages in the haulage industry. A lack of hauliers has made it difficult to transport cement from production sites to suppliers. However, supply is now gradually improving for cement although some suppliers will still only allow you to purchase a set number of bags in one go.
Timber is currently suffering one of the worst material shortages. This is largely due to an international demand increase since the beginning of the pandemic. Brexit has, of course, also impacted opportunity to restock as the majority of timber is imported. With material shortage comes the inevitable increase in price but unfortunately the situation is not expected to improve for some time.
Steel has long been in short supply with British steel halting orders in March this year due to overwhelming demand. Despite production increasing after a slow period at the start of 2020, supply is still not meeting the requirements. The pressure is on as many projects are awaiting completion.
Shortages of raw materials has prevented production of polyethylene and polypropylene plastics. These are used for a range of building materials such as pipework and roof membranes meaning some projects have now halted.
The main issues with aggregate supply have, like with cement, been haulage. However, more obstacles are expected. Most significantly, as the impending ban on diesel vehicles gets closer, the machines used to excavate and manoeuvre aggregates will need to be replaced with more environmentally friendly alternatives. In addition, the HS2 rail project will demand large volumes of aggregates. This will likely mean that prices will soon increase.
The construction industry can be a challenging and unpredictable environment but planning ahead can help everything run as smoothly as possible. If you’re planning a build, make sure you source your materials beforehand to try and avoid delays!