Our homes are our castles and spending a lot more time there than usual since the pandemic began has meant we’ve been casting a critical eye over our living spaces, seeing areas ripe for transformation. However, you may have started to find that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to source both the materials you need to get the job done and the tradespeople out there to actually do the job itself. So why are building materials in short supply?

The last 18 months or so has seen a real surge in renovation projects around the UK, with people spending a lot more time at home because of the pandemic and lockdown. Not being able to go out or go on holiday has meant that many of us have had a bit more disposable income to play around with. Which has led to all sorts of interesting home improvements being carried out.

What’s the problem?

There are lots of reasons behind why a materials shortage is currently being seen - and the not so good news is that experts are now predicting that the shortage is set to continue for some time, with prices potentially continuing to increase as well. The shortages can be attributed to the increase in building activity that was seen last year, especially during the first lockdown in March. Production of some materials slowed down, as a result, and supply chains have had a hard time coming back from this.

Key materials like timber and steel are still seeing serious shortages, with the Construction Leadership Council saying that no improvements have been seen in availability, while supplier delivery times have climbed sharply, as well, with supply chains struggling to keep pace with demand.

Concrete is also in short supply due to sand shortages. Concrete is 25% sand and is primarily sourced from river beds - not from the desert or beach. With many countries banning the mining of it and countries in dire need of the building material. Researchers are exploring the use of plastic waste ground down into suitable sand. According to a BBC article, researchers have found that you can replace up to 10% of the sand in concrete with this plastic while retaining the same strength and durability.

It’s not just the UK that has been focused on renovations and global demand for raw materials is adding to the shortages being seen here. As well as factory closures taking place around the world. Leading to shortages in adhesives, paints, insulation, roofing and electrical products. The UK also imports a lot of construction materials from the EU and port congestion has been hitting the headlines for months now, causing delays to projects. And it’s not just congestion - there’s also a shortage of HGV drivers at the moment, which is making matters harder to resolve.

It’s not just materials…

And then there’s the added problem of the fact that the labour supply is also being put under extreme pressure right now. So even if you do have the materials to hand, you may not be able to find someone to help you with whatever project you have in mind. Lots of EU workers returned home due to Brexit, which has made it harder to find tradespeople, and UK construction employment is decreasing, with job vacancies now at record highs.

If you are currently involved in a building project or thinking of starting one. Planning ahead is your key to success so you can have contingencies in place if material and labour shortages affect the work. For all your paving and flooring needs - get in touch to see our latest shipping times/stock and how we can help during this time.