Building firms waiting more than a year for bricks as raw material costs rocket, study shows

Weakened sterling has compounded rising price of raw materials

Caitlin Morrison
Friday 20 April 2018 00:09 BST
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Larger firms are able to stockpile bricks, which is also putting a strain on supplies
Larger firms are able to stockpile bricks, which is also putting a strain on supplies

Building firms are having to wait more than a year for bricks, according to new research which also shows material prices are “rocketing”, with the extra cost often being passed on to consumers.

Bricks were reported as being the material in shortest supply and with the longest wait time, according to a study of small and medium-sized building companies carried out by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Firms reported a wait time of more than a year for bricks, and up to six months for roof tiles.

The FMB said the supply shortage was caused by an increase in the price of raw materials required to produce bricks, which has been compounded by the weaker value of sterling, as well as high demand due to a buoyant international market.

The builders involved in the study are also at a disadvantage to the larger construction groups that can afford to stockpile materials.

Supply issues have also driven up the costs of building materials, with brick prices up by an average of 9 per cent, timber and roof tiles up by 8 per cent and insulation increasing by 16 per cent.

More than half of the firms surveyed said increased material prices were squeezing their margins, and 56 per cent said they had to pass costs on to their customers.

“The rise in material prices is not just a problem for the country’s construction firms – it is also a problem for home-owners. Half of firms have been forced to pass these price increases onto their clients, meaning building projects are becoming more and more expensive,” said the FMB’s chief executive, Brian Berry.

“We are calling on builders merchants to give their customers as much advance warning of forthcoming material price increases or wait times as possible so that firms can warn their customers and plan ahead. We are also advising builders to price jobs and draft contracts with these material price rises in mind.

“What we don’t want is for the number of building firms making losses on projects to increase as this could result in firms going to the wall. A large number of collapsing construction companies will have a terrible knock-on effect in the wider economy.”

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