Rising Building Material Shortage – Rising Costs and Availability

Chief executives at major construction firms have warned that the construction and building material shortage will continue into the summer, and lead times have been extended due to an increase in demand.

The growing shortage of raw materials may cause many delays for tradespeople looking to complete jobs around the UK, as the industry battles hard against coronavirus restrictions and Brexit complications.  

With the roofing industry hardest hit, some traders have said to be waiting until August for supplies to arrive.

It’s also no surprise that the overall cost of material is on the rise which will have a damaging effect on many smaller companies. Most notably, building products imported from Asia have seen the biggest surge in cost. 

Why is There a Construction Materials Shortage?

Paint is in short supply

During the first UK lockdown, so many people started working on their homes and gardens as they had so much more time on their hands. This prompted an initial surge in demand for construction and building materials, which then led to a slower production process. There is also a notable shortage of raw materials, most likely triggered by the global demand and closure of many factories due to government restrictions. Insulation and paint products have seen the longest delay due to the rise of home improvement projects in the UK.

At the same time, the industry was dealing with the uncertainty of Brexit. When 60% of all materials used in the UK come from EU factories, it’s no shock that Brexit has heavily impacted this industry. With more checks needed for each imported shipment, this led to delays at many UK ports and therefore a much longer delivery time.

Which Materials are in short supply?


Timber is scarce

Since the first lockdown, traders and companies have struggled to get hold of timber. The most affected materials include MDF, veneers and solid wood which offer no sign of recovery in the near future. David Hopkins, the CEO of The Timber Trade Federation, said that although timber suppliers are coming through, the global demand is ‘at an all-time high’, meaning delays should be expected amongst many traders and small businesses.

Roof tiles

Roof Tiles in Demand

Reports from many roofing contractors show that roofing tiles were amongst the hardest hit products. In the final quarter of 2020, many companies could not get hold of any tiles, and they still continue to be in short supply.


Most likely due to the huge surge in home improvement case across the UK, paint is also in high demand. With rising shipping costs and factories closed across the world, the shortage of paint shows no sign of passing any time soon.


The writings on the…

Unfortunately a perfect storm hit British Brick Manufacturers. The industry never really recovered from the last recession. Pile up the uncertainty of Brexit and COVID 19 and brick manufacturing in the UK is at its lowest since 2007. This is not a permanent feature in the materials landscape. With strong ongoing demand and investment in brick production we should see brick availability pick up. Want to know more about the state of British Brick Sustainability? Download the Brick Development Associations Sustainability report 2020.

What can be done to deal with the materials shortage?

  • More accurate job costs

Every business faces a big dilemma when quoting a new client. As well as remaining competitive, you want to also ensure that your quote is profitable and worthwhile. The cost of raw material plays a huge role in your quote and traders need to bare the rising prices in mind. Before quoting a job, make sure that you are aware of the current market prices for each required material, and the wait times. This will help you to give accurate quotes to your customer that leave you with enough profit, and an honest timescale. 

  • Adding pre order to your quote process

A pre order allows you to calculate the cost of materials for a customer. Pre ordering the materials that the customer wishes to use and calculating the cost allows you to quote more accurately. It also ensures that the client will not be let down and that your work is guaranteed. Although there are continuous delays for many materials, the pre ordering process may help reduce the wait time.

If you’re a tradesperson or planning to do some DIY projects over the summer, start planning in advance to ensure you aren’t caught out by the material shortages or price surges.

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) recommends that all workers in the construction industry work closely with their supply chain and remain in frequent contact with their suppliers.

With product availability showing no sign of improving, consumers need to understand that this will have a huge impact on many tradespeople and their ability to perform work as quick as usual. 

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