Last reviewed 29 July 2021

The leaders of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) and of the Construction Products Association (CPA) have issued a joint statement about current problems with supplies of vital construction products.

John Newcomb and Peter Caplehorn, co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group, highlight that global demand is far in excess of supply leading to product shortages, rapid and sustained price inflation, long lead times and uncertainty regarding deliveries.

It is also clear, they point out, that the global shipping industry is far from recovered from the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with congested shipping routes, container cancellations and higher costs still evident.

The products most affected are those used in housebuilding and domestic repair maintenance and improvement (RMI), including roofing products, timber, insulation, landscaping products, blocks, sealants/PVA, PIR Insulation, kitchen carcassing and products that use plastic, such as drainage and some windows.

Bagged cement is particularly hard hit due to ongoing unprecedented demand but both bagged and bulk cement are on allocation. There are, however, regional variations to this with some areas affected more than others.

Demand for wood and wood products remains very strong and timber supply will continue to tighten into the third quarter (Q3), following the Scandinavian holiday and maintenance season in July, continuing the upward pressure on prices, the statement goes on.

While, overall, prices for products and materials have increased by a reported 10–15%, timber has seen increases of 20–50% for most products and over 100% for OSB (oriented strand board) and other sheet materials.

The statement also mentions increased concerns over labour shortages, exacerbated by the growing number of non-symptomatic drivers, tradespeople, merchant and manufacturing staff required to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

“Looking forward,” the two CEOs state, “housebuilders are managing current builds to completion but there are indications that smaller, regional developers may be forced to delay starting work on new sites until they have more certainty around product availability and lead times.”