Building prices go through the roof: Shortages and surge in Covid lockdown projects send costs soaring

Building prices go through the roof: Shortages and surge in Covid lockdown projects send costs soaring at fastest rate since the last century, new data shows:


  • Unprecedented demand for extensions, loft conversions, landscape gardening 
  • Builders say they have to go back to customers ‘daily’ with increased quotes 
  • The price rises over the summer were the highest since records began in 1997 
  • By TOM WITHEROW BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT FOR THE DAILY MAIL - PUBLISHED: 00:00, 7 September 2021


The cost of building materials for home improvements is rising at the fastest rate since the 1990s, data suggests.

‘Unprecedented’ demand for extensions, loft conversions and landscape gardening, amid a supply shortage, has led to prices ‘going through the roof’. Builders say they are having to go back to customers ‘almost daily’ with increased quotes as merchants raise their fees. One said he had been forced to increase the predicted cost of an extension from £20,000 to £27,000 – up 35 per cent. The price rises over the summer were the highest since records began in 1997, according to research group IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

And the high demand has come against ‘sustained and severe’ disruption to supply chains caused by global shipping chaos and the shortage of lorry drivers, forcing customers to wait up to eight months for deliveries of items such as bricks. The price of some wood products has almost doubled year on year, data from the Office for National Statistics shows. The cost of a typical 4.8metre (15ft 9in) length of sawn treated timber has risen from £17 to £29, while the cost of a 2.4metre (7ft 10in) length of plywood has increased from £34 to £62. The price of tiles has gone up by close to a third, from £1.20 to £1.58, with builders facing six-month waits for deliveries. Cement has risen in price by a fifth year on year, meaning a 25kg (3st 13lb) bag now costs more than £5, up from £4.20.  Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, said the pressures on supply were ‘formidable’, adding: ‘Material and staff costs went through the roof [in August].’

John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, said: ‘If Mrs Miggins is having a loft extension done she is going to pay more for materials. Merchants cannot absorb those increases, they have had to pass them on. ‘Anybody who is doing any work will be paying a lot more for that work now than they would have a year ago.’

The chaos in global shipping has also contributed, with the cost of a container from China reportedly increasing from £1,800 a year ago to £8,640 today.

Boris Johnson has looked to infrastructure projects as a way of kick-starting the economy, meaning homeowners are competing with national construction projects for materials. PM promised infrastructure spending to boost UK economy in June 2020. 

Rico Wojtulewicz, of the National Federation of Builders, said: ‘It’s completely and utterly unprecedented. We’re hearing evidence that the largest housebuilders are going direct to manufacturers, which means there’s less stock for home repairs work.’

Demand for improvements rocketed as families stuck at home used lockdown savings to build home offices and improve gardens. 

At the same time Boris Johnson has looked to infrastructure projects as a way of kick-starting the economy, meaning homeowners are competing with national construction projects for materials.

The chaos in global shipping has also contributed, with the cost of a container from China reportedly increasing from £1,800 a year ago to £8,640 today.

A long-standing lack of skilled builders is also pushing up the price of labour and forcing households to wait several months to start projects.


Tweet by Biocraft ltd re construction price increases

https://twitter.com/biocraft_uk/status/1428603500028698625?s=11


Four in five SMEs hike their costs

03 AUG 2021 BY TIYA THOMAS-ALEXANDER

Four out of five SME builders raised their prices in the second quarter of 2021 as materials costs continued to rise, the Federation of Master Builders’ latest State of Trade survey has revealed.

The price hikes come on the back of continued strong demand, with enquiries for new work growing at the fastest pace in a decade. FMB chief executive Brian Berry said the increased workloads had also brought challenges: “Rising workloads are bringing mixed blessings for builders across the UK,” he said, adding that demand for materials had increased lead times to the point that new projects were at risk of being cancelled.

Out of the 259 businesses surveyed, almost every single one (98 per cent) said prices had risen in the last quarter. Berry said: “The percentage increases in materials is mind-boggling; every order costs more than the last across the board.”

Firms also reported growing shortages of labour, particularly skilled trade. Around half of them said they had trouble finding carpenters and bricklayers (53 per cent and 47 per cent respectively) in the last quarter.

Weybridge-based builder Andy Stevens from Eclipse Property Solutions told Construction News recent price rises were long overdue: “The reality is, I don’t feel like us trades are paid enough and haven’t been for a while. Up until recently, all the subbies I know and work with haven’t put their prices up for years. For 8-10 years, it’s all been pretty much the same. In a situation like this, where supply is way less than the demand, trades put their prices up–especially the good ones,” he said.

The FMB warned rising prices increased the risk of rogue traders taking advantage of the demand to make “unrealistic quotations” to secure business. “Some members are increasingly concerned that rising prices will spark a wave of rogue trading as customers, desperate to get their building works completed, will place themselves at the mercy of cowboy builders,” Berry said.

The trade body called on government to intervene to help smaller businesses secure materials while shortages persist: “Greater support is needed from government and the whole industry to explain to consumers why prices are going up,” Berry said. “At a time when small building companies are struggling to find building materials, it becomes ever more important for them to have the same access to materials as the larger firms.”


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