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How does the UK construction industry deal with a lack of materials?

  • Publish Date: Posted 4 months ago
  • Author: James Kenealey
The UK construction industry is booming with the cries of ‘Build, Build, Build’ echoing through the months from a time where the sector was coming to the end of an unprecedented and complete halt.

Activity is at a seven-year high for the sector, with the industry spearheading an economic recovery following the coronavirus lockdowns. However, a combination of Covid-19, Brexit and the growing demand are driving up the prices of essential materials, and the associated shortage could threaten to undermine the nation’s best efforts to deliver on proposed housing, road, and other infrastructure projects. It may be a great time for jobs in construction, but costs are rising.

What is causing the UK construction materials shortage?

With construction projects surging since the ease of lockdown began, there has been a natural increase in the number of materials that are being consumed, which has contributed to the vast increase in demand, particularly for already scarce materials. Steel, cement, timber and even electrical components are all in short supply, with shortages predicted to last until at least the end of the year.

Construction companies in the housing sector have linked the shortages to a growth in demand for new build houses following the stamp duty holiday in July 2020. This coupled with an increase in home renovation DIY projects during the last 12 months has left the industry struggling to cope with the demand for basic construction materials.

Specific products have also seen shrinking supplies, with a relatively warm winter affecting timber production in parts of the world like Scandinavia and a cold winter in Texas affecting the production of plastics and polymers.

The costs associated with transporting goods around the world has also increased. The cost of shipping a 40ft container from Asia to Northern Europe has soared almost six-fold between summer 2020 and May 2021, according to the Construction Products Association.The Office of National Statistics in the UK has forecasted a further leap in prices, with products such as timber expected to more than double, with cement rising 30%.

The shortage of timber, in particular, is a major issue for the construction industry, with the material being used extensively in the construction of new homes.

How do we solve the construction materials shortage?

Embracing recycling could be the way to solve the crisis. Sheehan Group, a leading regional construction company specialising in recycling, groundworks and plant hire, says that the UK is overly reliant on raw materials and imported products, and that the answer lies with the use of recycled sand, concrete and blocks. The business themselves uses a water treatment facility to wash construction and demolition waste to turn it into reusable products for construction.

It’s a difficult time for the construction industry but with ‘Build, Build, Build’ still on the agenda, it’s a great time for construction jobs.Search our latest here.