Supply shortage of cement, timber and paint puts DIY jobs on hold

Don’t make any concrete plans! Supply shortage of cement, timber, steel and paint due to ‘unprecedented demand’ puts building and DIY jobs on hold

  • Shortages of construction materials are putting building and DIY jobs on hold
  • Industry is now facing the biggest surge in prices of materials for two decades 
  • Shipping costs have also risen due to shortage of empty containers from Covid

Building and DIY projects are being put on hold because of a supply shortage of cement, timber, steel and paint while homeowners face a major rise in the cost of renovation projects due to skyrocketing demand. 

The Office for National Statistics has projected an increase of up to eight per cent in material prices, as shortages of vital construction materials post-lockdown mean that the industry its biggest price surge in two decades.

For instance, the price of timber has risen by more than 400 per cent over the last year, with copper nearly doubling in price during the same period. 

Shipping costs have also increased sharply due to a shortage of empty containers from Covid-related issues and the recovery in global demand post-pandemic.

The Construction Productions Association told the BBC that the cost of shipping a 40ft container from Asia to northern Europe, for instance, rose from around £1,000 last summer to more than £5,800 by this month.

Employees work on the upper floors of new homes under construction at a Countryside Properties Plc new housing development in Chelmsford, January 22, 2021

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said some firms may have to delay DIY projects while others could be forced to close.  

He told the BBC: ‘My members are experiencing price rises of 10-15 per cent across the board, rising to 50 per cent on timber and 30 per cent on cement.’ 

There are also issues hitting specific products, such as the warmer winter affecting timber production in Scandinavia while the cold winter weather in Texas affected the production of chemicals, plastics and polymer. 

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said that some building firms may have to delay DIY projects

In steel, the Scunthorpe mills of British Steel warned Construction News this week of ‘extreme demand’ and spoke of the need to limit orders because demand in the UK was verging on the brink of ‘panic buying’.  

Peek Home managing director Roland Glancy has even been warning people to delay home improvement projects until autumn, adding: ‘The last thing you want is to knock through a wall and then struggle to get hold of a bag of plaster to complete your vision leaving you living in a building site.’

It comes as a coalition of roofing companies and organisations warned shortages have led to a ‘perfect storm’ in the housebuilding industry. 

The National Federation of Roofing Contractors, and contractors SR Timber, Marley and the Avonside Group said in a statement that timber is in short supply across the world, with North American imports of it at 15-year highs.

The companies said the increased demand and lack of supply has significantly affected both cost and productivity in the UK sector. 

The Carbis Bay Estate hotel and beach is seen from a drone on March 2, 2021

In a statement, the Construction Leadership Council said: ‘Back in March we warned that product availability would worsen before it improved. 

‘This is proving to be the case; projections indicate that strong demand will continue over the next six months. This mirrors similar projections worldwide, as major economies such as China, the US and the EU surge following lockdowns.

‘In fact, most of the shortages of products and raw materials impacting the market have been driven by both global and domestic supply and demand factors. 

‘Previously reported issues relating to timber, steel, pitched roofing, plastics and paints/coatings continue. Growing areas of concern, however, include certain electronic components and bagged cement.

‘The surge in demand means some SME builders are not able to purchase essential materials, like timber, cement and roof tiles, as readily off the shelves. This not only impacts their ability to complete projects, but also the cash flow of their business. 

‘The unprecedented levels of demand, both in the UK and globally, is set to continue for the foreseeable future, placing the importance of forward planning and communication front and centre. 

‘Only by working positively together can we endeavour to provide customers with the products and solutions they require to complete projects in a timely manner.’     

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