Roofers fear building material shortages

Almost half of roofing and cladding contractors  are concerned about the effect of shortages of building and roofing materials on their business.

That’s according to a survey produced by Glenigan for the National Federation of Roofing Contractors.

Roof tiles were the material is shortest supply, according to the survey, with 49% of those questioned reporting struggles to source tiles in the final quarter of 2020. Timber and battens (17%), slates (14%) and insulation (5%) were also reported as being in short supply.

roofing low res 2
 Pic: Virrage Images/Shutterstock

Prices are iincreasng as a result of the shortages; 76% of roofers reported price rises in the last year, with 65% reporting that they have ven rises quarter-on-quarter.

The new UK-wide survey of roofing and cladding firms also found that:

  • Workloads were up in all roofing sectors in Q4 of 2020 with domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) performing the strongest, followed by commercial RMI and public non-residential RMI.
  • All nations and regions of the UK, apart from Northern Ireland, experienced higher workloads than the previous quarter. Scotland performed best, with 80 per cent of Scottish roofing contractors reporting higher activity levels.
  • Employment levels increased on the previous quarter, with a net balance of 12 per cent of firms reporting a higher staff count than in Q3, but this is still down 3 per cent on the previous year.
  • It is becoming harder for roofing contractors to recruit, with 45 per cent of firms reporting that recruitment is becoming more difficult. Labour shortages was the second-highest area of concern reported for 2021.
  • Roofing firms are optimistic for the year ahead, with more firms expecting workloads to increase in 2021 rather than decrease.

NFRC Chief Executive, James Talman, said: “The last year has seen manufacturing plants temporarily shut down, whole shifts of workers having to self-isolate, disruptions at ports, and enhanced international competition for many products such as timber – it is, therefore, no wonder that the top concern for roofing contractors this year is material shortages. Despite these challenges, the industry ended the year on an optimistic note, with healthy order books, and a good number of future enquiries across all parts of the industry.”

Allan Wilen, economics director at Glenigan said: “The survey reveals a robust construction recovery during the fourth quarter. Roofing contractors reported a strong growth in workload driven by an increase in repair maintenance and improvement work (RMI), in particular by domestic work. Industry expectations and an increase in new enquiries point to a further, broad-based rise in workload during 2021.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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