Since the coronavirus pandemic and more recently with an increase in energy costs and the war in Ukraine members have made it clear that the cost of products, and in some cases availability, are causing problems for their businesses.   

We know prices are on the rise and are changing constantly, with some products now costing much more than would be normal. Understandably, this is making it really hard to accurately prepare for and price your jobs. We are using the media to get your message out there and are talking to industry and politicians.

With lasting issues from the pandemic and price volatility caused by the war in Ukraine and rising energy costs, issues with construction products will be facing the industry for some time. We recognise the urgency of the situation and will keep you updated. Please get in touch to share your experiences.

 

Latest updates

See below summary updates of the Construction Leadership Councils Product Availability Statement.

CLC Product Availability Statement: Read latest statement.

  • 27 July 2022: Availability of products continues are reported to have improved across all categories and regions, with the exception of Northern Ireland.

    High levels of inflation caused by the war in Ukraine have stabilised. Demand has softened at the retail end of the market leading to less extreme price rises, although this is still unlikely to lower project costs. It’s likely inflation on materials will persist, at a lower level, throughout the rest of the year.

    As with previous months energy costs are proving troublesome for manufacturers. Some have seen their bills rise by 300%, which may affect the viability of energy intensive products.

    Delivery times for gas boilers remain an issue due to continuing high demand, and extended lead times are expected into Q1 2023. There are reported increased demand for solar PV and other renewable energy products, which has resulted in extended delivery times for them.

    Continuing from previous months transport issues continue to affect imported products with it noted that only 25% of goods from East Asia are arriving on time. Shipping container costs also remain at high levels.

  • 1 June 2022: Availability of products has little changed since May, with a good supply of most products and materials. Ongoing challenges continue to affect bricks, aircrete blocks, roof tiles, chipboard flooring, gas boilers and other products requiring semi-conductors. There are reports of delays in supply of boilers leading to extended completion times in new housing.

    Lockdowns in China are starting to ease therefore production is returning to normal levels for certain products. However, shipping routes to the West are already suffering from bottlenecks so this could make the situation worse.

    Steel will likely increase in cost (adding to cost issues owing to the volatility of energy prices), as the Indian Government has imposed increased export duties on it, they’ve also applied the increase to iron ore.

    Energy costs remain a substantial issue with costs up across the board, pushing material prices higher. This will particularly affect energy-intensive products including steel, glass, plasterboard, cement, ceramics, and porcelain.
  • 11 May 2022: Supplies of bricks, aircrete blocks, concrete products, PIR insulation products and gas boilers continue to be affected by shortages and longer lead times can be expected.

    Wood products, including structural timber and softwood, are still readily available. However, the availability of products sourced in Russia and Belarus is limited, and this affects timber used in joinery, shopfitting and finishing. There is also a dwindling supply of birch plywood and Siberian larch due to import sanctions on Russia, with larch expected to run out later this year.

    The latest data published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) shows that annual material price inflation increased to over 24% in March for a basket of materials. Fuel price fluctuations are expected to continue, and some merchants and producers report issues with supply chain caused by COVID-19 resurgence in China.

    The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) advise that demand for construction is still high, but there are initial signs of a slowing market. They also warn that some SME contractors have concerns that local authorities could delay regeneration projects until procurement prices stabilise. The latest Construction Product Availability Statement is available to read now on the CLC website.

  • 21 April 2022: Product availability issues remain for bricks, aircrete blocks, some roofing products and gas boilers. All of these products are experiencing longer lead times.

    The war in Ukraine is beginning to be felt by UK construction. Nickel prices have doubled since the conflict began, which affects the price of stainless steel. The prices of copper, steel, and aluminium have increased. Taken together with a shortage of supply from major neon producers and existing bottlenecks for microchips and semiconductors, the electrotechnical sector is now experiencing inflation on products above 20% as well as price rises between 10-20%. Recent increases in the price of oil will likely affect both fuel and plastics.

    Costs are going up for materials, driven by rises in the cost of energy and raw materials. This is a particular problem for steel, cement, glass and other energy-intensive products. The last three months have seen price inflation of 10-15%, on top of price increases introduced at the end of last year.

  • 9 March 2022: Product shortages continue to affect bricks, blocks, roof tiles, steel lintels, cable trays and trunking, manhole covers, gas boilers and some electrical products. Prices for building materials are going up by 10% on average, and 20% for more energy intensive items. You can read the latest Construction Product Availability Statement on the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) website.

    Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, and subsequent sanctions on Russia and Belarus, are likely to have a significant impact on global trade. While the impact on the availability of building materials is not yet known, it is likely there will be pressure on products reliant on particular components for their production, such as copper, aluminium, iron ore, oil, bitumen and neon, which is a key component in the production of semiconductors. Pressures may also be felt on products that require a lot of energy to manufacture. A retaliatory export ban by Russia on some timber products might also affect availability for the building trade. If you have any concerns about material shortages linked to supply chains in Russia, Belarus or Ukraine, please email [email protected].

  • 18 January 2022: With demand easing over the Christmas period, stocks of products like timber have improved. However, challenges, long lead times and backlogs remain especially with bricks and aircrete blocks, roof tiles and plastics. A global shortage of semi-conductors is affecting supply of boilers and some electrical products. You can read the latest Construction Product Availability Statement on the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) website.
  • Ongoing: The CLC is in discussions with JCT about introducing flexibilities into their contracts in order to reflect the impacts of materials shortages. Discussions are taking place within CLC to identify ways and means to manage and mitigate price inflation.

Got a question?

Speak to our policy team on 020 7025 2934 or send us an email.

Email policy team

Resources for FMB members

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Practical tips and advice to navigate materials shortages

Watch this webinar to find out more about the causes of materials shortages and to get advice on how to mitigate their impacts on your business.

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Template letters for clients explaining material price rises

Download our templates to give to clients when starting a new job or if dealing with an ongoing project that is affected by materials shortages.

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Contracts and tenders: Guidance for FMB members

Are you starting a new contract, whether tender, JCT or FMB? Read our guidance on what you can include to give yourself some protection from current material price volatility.

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FMB contracts

Download our easy-to-use, jargon-free contract and quotation letter templates to give your clients confidence.

How to manage the impacts of material shortages

  • Let your clients know what’s happening. You can use one of our Word template letters to give to clients whether starting a new job or managing an ongoing project.
  • Consider adding a timeframe to your quotes, explaining that prices are currently very unpredictable due to global demand.
  • Put a simple change clause in your contracts, to give you some flexibility if prices change. Read our guidance on how to insert flexibility into new contracts and tenders or find out more in our article The importance of adaptability in construction contracts.
  • Keep in regular communication with your clients throughout a project. Be open and honest about the situation you (and the whole industry) is facing finding materials.
  • Try to plan ahead where you can. If you have an existing relationship with a merchant, let them know what jobs you have coming up and they will work with you to try to find the products you need.

 How we are representing your views

This is a global problem, and the whole of UK construction is facing unprecedented demand. But we have been clear with our industry colleagues, with Government, and in the media: Supply chains must be kept open to all parts of the industry, and in all parts of the country. The smallest customers must be treated fairly and have transparent access to allocations where these apply.
  • We have written to the UK Construction Minister on two occasions to raise your concerns about this issue. We have also briefed the Housing Minister, including a case study from an FMB member, and officials in the Ministry of Housing and Homes England about the shortages and the impact that they could have on national house building targets. 
  • An MP tabled questions on our behalf for answer by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy asking what steps they are taking to address the national shortage of building materials. These included questions on the impact on small to medium-sized (SME) firms, on the impact of the Government meeting its EPC target for UK homes, and finally regarding the implications for housing delivery.
  • An MP also raised this issue with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on our behalf, during July's Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Oral Questions.
  • We have briefed the Planning Advisory Service, who provide support to local planning authorities, so that planners are understanding of builders who need to swap materials part-way through a housing scheme.
  • We are raising awareness of the issue to consumers in the media, and have been quoted in the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, the I (in print and online), on LBC Radio, and BBC online. We were also featured on BBC London (from 1.02s in) and across a wide range of regional BBC radio stations.
  • The FMB forms part of the Construction Leadership Council Products Availability Group, which brings together representatives of the merchants and manufacturers to share information. FMB members regularly attend these meetings and share feedback on shortages that they have gathered from across the membership.
Images of FMB representatives on national media

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