2021 is showing a dramatic building material shortage in the UK. In fact, more so than seen in decades before, and it’s having a huge impact on everyone in the construction industry, from designers and builders even down to clients and homeowners trying to have their project completed. It’s a genuine crisis, and it’s affecting the country as well as the rest of the globe.
Supply & Demand
The biggest cause of the building material shortage in the UK is simply supply and demand. Materials are in short supply straight from the manufacturers, with exports at an all-time low. This is leading to backlogs of demand from parties all over the world, and this is combining to cause a spiralling issue.
The direct result of that is a huge rise in costs for the materials in question. Everything from wood and steel, which are some of the most dramatically affected, right through to plasterboard and roof tiles is seeing a big impact. Many reports are even showing that despite the price increase for basic materials of around 10% over the last year, the same could well happen again in the next 12 months. That leads to a huge number of projects running over budget.
Implicants for Clients
While looking into the impacts of the shortage, looking to how it will affect those having work done is one of the best places to start. Clients, in particular, will be facing the brunt of all of this after all, since they are spending the most money on these materials being at the bottom of the transition of property and paying everyone else in the chain. That’s even more of an impact when thinking about self builders following the help to build movement.
The demand for the building material causing a shortage in the UK, and the price hike isn’t the only problem for clients, either. There are also other issues to consider in every project. Things like how long projects could last, for example, can result in a huge amount of work more for builders, and therefore more paid for work. Builders are also having to charge more as it is in many cases simply to accommodate the shortage and reduction in work they can do. That also means clients could be waiting longer to find a builder, as well as just have their work done.
Implications for Building Companies
Builders and building companies are the next in line to be most dramatically affected since they are essentially fighting all of the points above as well as trying to run profitable services to keep them in employment, or profit at larger scales. Builders and project managers alike will be experiencing huge pressure to make projects go as planned without extra problems, and having building materials is essential to making this happen at every stage of the projects they’re working on. The overall result of that is less work being manageable, and fewer people looking to start new jobs because of the situation too.
Many larger building companies in the UK are not quite feeling the same pressure from the building material shortage as smaller businesses due to the additional buying power. Small businesses tend to buy building materials as and when needed, and in smaller amounts not having the preferential treatment of these large firms able to buy in bulk or from exclusive suppliers.
Implications for Architects
Architects and designers are directly between builders and clients in this situation. As a result, many are also feeling the effects of both areas of problems in the situation. The lack of people wanting to take on building work means that as a by-product, there’s less demand for architectural work at the same time. In much the same way, the lack of builders having work to take on is reducing projects from both sides.
Smaller architectural firms, in particular, have the same issue as smaller building firms, not having the ability to market themselves effectively due to reduced workloads. Larger firms however just like builders again are able to take advantage of a struggling market, working with larger firms for more lucrative opportunities without the worry of not being able to meet overheads.
The Causing Factors of the Shortage
With off of these affected parties throughout the shortage, it doesn’t take long to understand what is the true cause behind all of the problem areas. Brexit was already proving to be a trying time for importing and exporting as things were still being finalised between nations. Added to restriction in being able to import and export around the rest of the world simply amplified that, with huge backlogs in demand being created, and larger nations being able to take up much more than other nations like the UK. All in all, the shortage of building material in the UK doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. Restrictions are in place even now around the globe because of COVID. These backlogs will take months if not years to be able to meet, and as a result, this could well be a long term issue with rising costs throughout.