Timber and steel shortages set to intensify

Aaron Morby 1 year ago
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Merchants and building materials producers have warned timber shortages look set to worsen as construction demand rises.

Timber supplies are tightening with one contractor reporting a leading national merchant chain ran out of basic shuttering timber a few weeks ago.

World prices for sawn timber have soared in the face of ongoing supply chain disruptions due to the reduced availability of shipping containers, and strong global demand.

This has seen timber join steel in seeing unprecedented price hikes over the last few months.

Nick Boulton, Head of Technical and Trade at the Timber Trade Federation, said: “We are seeing demand for wood products continuing to increase at UK, EU and Global levels which coupled with ongoing supply chain disruptions caused by covid restrictions has inflated prices and extended lead times.”

Leaders of the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group have now warned timber, roof tiles and roofing membranes are the worst affected product areas for contractors.

Global demand also continues to impact prices and delivery times on structural steel, internal steel products and galvanised steel.

Evidence suggests that some steel products may suffer continued shortages into the second half of the year.

John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association said present evidence suggests that some steel products could suffer continued shortages into the second half of the year.

The working group report said that in general products remain available but lead times have lengthened.

It warns that current demand is such that it is proving difficult for manufacturers and suppliers to build up stock levels.

The report stated: “There is unlikely to be any improvement in timber supplies this year with little or no timber currently coming into the UK that is not already pre-sold and global demand outstripping supply.”

However, they add that the supply of roofing products was expected to improve in the second half of the year.

Raw material shortages, stemming from global demand and other external factors such as factory closures outside the UK, continue to constrain production of PE and PP plastics, PIR insulation, paints, adhesives and other coatings.

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