Construction site | cranes | Construction material shortage
Date published: 26 Sep 2023
Holly Chipchase

What is causing the construction material shortage?

Quality materials are a must, especially regarding safe and sustainable construction. That said, prices of construction materials have rocketed recently, snowballing into a potential construction material shortage. This is due to several factors including: 

Materials shortage  

Building materials shortage

When looking at products like timber, it’s easy to get caught up in the fact that it is a highly renewable energy source. Although that is true, up to 20% of timber waste is thrown in landfills instead of being recycled. Is it possible for the growing and processing of raw materials to keep up with this waste? 

Covid 19  

Covid-19 negative effects on construction materials

During the Coronavirus lockdown, many manufacturers had to slow down or stop producing materials. Despite this, homeowners took on up to 80% more interest in home improvement, meaning available materials were being used at a rate faster than they could be supplied. As a result, there were huge supply and demand issues, which has in turn increased prices. 


Brexit caused construction materials to increase in price

Brexit is having a knock-on effect on the materials shortage, due to changing regulations. Shipping delays and strict overseas material sourcing rules have also contributed to the shortage of building materials.  

What materials are most affected by the construction material shortage?

These materials are noticeably more expensive than they were pre-COVID. There are issues surrounding people obtaining cheaper and lower quality materials which can be problematic for health and safety.   

Price increases Price decreases
Screws +25.3%Fabricated Steel –29.3%
Metal doors + 20.4%Concrete reinforcing bars –28.0%
Metal windows +20.1%Planed or sawn wood –19.2%

Price changes from Aug 2022 – Aug 2023

How is the material shortage impacting the construction industry? 

The construction material shortages and rising costs have led to several problems within the industry in the past couple of years. Lots of projects are falling behind schedule due to shipping and sourcing problems.

The main concern is that builders may begin to cut corners to keep costs down, this could simply be buying lesser quality materials, or buying materials that are not up to the health and safety code.

What are the best solutions for the building material shortage?

One of the main solutions that could be implemented to mitigate the impact of the construction material shortage is to use materials that are recycled, or already in the UK. Investing in UK materials production eliminates the need for shipping and sourcing materials, making projects easier to plan. It allows builders to be able to have quicker and better access to the materials that they need.

Prices may have increased, and many construction materials may be scarce, but the building has not ground to a halt. Developments are popping up all over the UK, and there is plenty of opportunity for the construction industry.

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