Small builders feel the affect of pandemic shortages

With building sites staying open construction is one of the few good things for the UK economy.

Unfortunately just because the industry has been able to keep working through various lockdowns it does not mean that everyone has been unaffected by the pandemic.

Smaller businesses appear to be bearing the brunt of it as they are last in line for any materials that may be scarce.

‘You must be alright because construction is not affected’ is a phrase often used at this present time, but this is not true according to south London builder Dan Grimshaw, who trades as Beam Development, delivering home improvements and extensions.

“We are lucky, because we have been allowed to carry on as many of our sites are external or there is space inside to allow people to work in a safe environment. However, we’ve got supply chain and cost-related issues, we have people off with Covid, and prices are going up dramatically for everything”.

“Meanwhile, many eastern European workers have cashed in their self-employment allowance and returned to their home countries to sit it out”.

“Everyone is just having to try to get through it. It’s not good, but on the flip side of that, everybody’s busy which is a huge consolation”.

Dan Grimshaw said that he recently received notice from his builders’ merchants telling him that timber is going to to up in January, February and March.

“Prices are increasing and resources are becoming scarcer because supply chains are affected. Everything’s getting squeezed. and the situation was fairly tight in the first place. People are keeping less stock. Where once you would expect to be able to get brassware in a week, i’m now looking at a month, so all the planning has to be changed”.

He went on to say that the last quarter of 2020 saw shortages due to bulk orders from the big volume builders who were snapping up all the timber that they could get,

“Many smaller contractors don’t have the cash or the space to bulk-buy timber for the next six months. Bulk buying only exacerbates the problem so we would resist doing this. Before, we could pretty much expect to ring a builders’ merchant for a lorry load of timber and it would probably be there the next day. We are now learning not to rely or expect next-day delivery for everything”.

“We are having to adapt our timescales now because the flexibility is just not there”.