The building trade is experiencing its biggest boom for decades, which is welcome news of course, but it also presents certain challenges for those in the trade. There is currently a shortage of materials and labour, which is expected to take several months to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
The Homebuilding & Renovating website reports that a recent survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has found that builder’s workloads are at the highest levels for 10 years. A combination of homeowners undertaking renovation and alteration works during lockdown, and a backlog of projects caused by Covid shutdowns, have mounted up.
Builder Terry Huggett explains: “We have a lot of people who have purchased properties due to the reduction in stamp duty, and due to people seeing the value in outside spaces because of the pandemic. Plus, the property price hike appears to have been the catalyst for more people moving, or spending it on a new extension.”
As well as the increased demand, the construction industry is faced with an ongoing materials shortage. The ripple effect of the global shutdown last March is still being felt in scarcity of raw materials and products including timber, steel, and paints. The extra complications of Brexit also need to be factored into the supply chain.
Huggett advises that lead times on orders for building materials have increased from six weeks to around 12 weeks, and stressed the importance of ordering materials several months in advance. He points out that you also need to have adequate space to store any stockpiled materials, to avoid them becoming damaged by the weather.
In some more positive news, the post-Brexit rules on the CE marking of construction products, which were set to start from January 2022, have been delayed until January 2023, Politics Home reports. Companies will now have an additional 12 months to comply with the new UKCA marking standards.
The transition to the Construction Products Regulation and CE marking post–Brexit rules is expected to mean additional testing costs for businesses, and is likely to lead to further supply chain backlogs. Recognition of the CE mark will end in the UK from 1 January 2023, meaning all businesses must comply with a UK-recognised approved body.
Various industry groups raised concerns with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) about the implementation of the new legislation.
James Talman, chief executive of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors said of the news: “At a time when we are facing some of the worst material availability and inflation in living memory, this announcement will come as a welcome relief for manufacturers and merchants.”
David Borland, senior technical officer of the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), also expressed relief at the extension of the transition period. However, he also said that the GGF remained cautious about the future, and that they would continue to push for a Mutual Recognition Agreement, that would be accepted by the EU before January 2023.
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