Industry facing spiralling materials costs

Industry sees record demand for scaffold boards

A leading UK construction trade body has issued a warning over spiralling materials costs as a result of disruptions brought about by the twin impact of coronavirus and Brexit. 

The Builders Merchants Federation, members of which manufacture 76% of building products in the UK, raised the flag late-January after months of travel uncertainty, and ongoing confusion surrounding new import and export rules and border controls following the United Kingdoms departure from the EU at the start of the year. 

The news adds to an increasingly problematic outlook for British construction. Record house prices set in 2020 are expected to falter in the coming months as purchases fail to complete ahead of the tax holiday deadline on March 31, 2021. 

Meanwhile, land value in some towns and cities has also fallen as more and more businesses are seriously considering a future in which remote working is often the norm, or at least an option, reducing the pressure for people to live in major urban areas. 

Alongside evidence of limited availability of roofing materials, the organisation pointed to an average 20% increase in the price of timber.

But while the timing would suggest a sector responding to huge logistical challenges and changes brought about by European and worldwide circumstances in the last year, for some in the industry this is as much about phenomenal demand as it is anything else – with more materials understandably being used when there is high demand for property in general. 

“As the biggest manufacture of timber scaffold boards in the UK we would like to think we are getting an extremely good deal on the raw material, but over the last year we have seen our costs spiral to levels never seen before, said Ollie Appleby, director of Brent Scaffold Boards Ltd.

“The cost of timber has been very stable for a number of years, it has only been over the last 18 months we have seen it start to creep up, with huge increases in the last six months, he continued, before explaining that the only way in which prices might now fall is if the appetite for timber materials and associated products does the same. 

“The only way timber prices will reduce is when the globe demand subsides. Brexit has had a small impact to costs but the overall cost is down to high log prices, delivery costs and global demand.”

This article was first published in the ScaffMag Magazine Issue 12