Material shortages: How to still deliver on time and budget

Published: July 14, 2021
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Construction product and material shortages continue to cause problems for construction projects across the UK, with housebuilders being among the worst hit.

Residential property developments are being hit by the surge in activity as companies work to catch up on work paused during Covid-19 lockdowns. The result is that many firms are left without the materials they need to complete work on schedule.

A new survey conducted by insurance firm LABC Warranty with UK housebuilders has found that 69% of the sector is having trouble getting the necessary materials to do their jobs. The survey also found that 55% of housebuilders struggle to access skilled workers and trades, causing more problems.

The chief executive of Federation of Master Builders, Brian Berry, has also highlighted the issues caused by material shortages. He stated that as much as 90% of the federation’s members have been hit by material shortages and price increases.

With material shortages continuing to be an issue across the construction industry, how can you mitigate the impact they will have on your current and future projects?

Keep track of the latest guidance

Government guidance can help you anticipate what issues with imported materials may arise, so it is a good idea to check the latest guidance daily. It will ensure you have ample time to make any changes required, whether that’s changing suppliers or placing advance orders in anticipation of shipping delays.

Identifying potential risks can help you manage them better. You can plan projects around potential delays so work can carry on and your entire project does not face added setbacks.

Research materials trends

Keep an eye on materials trends to ensure you know where there are shortages and what materials are likely to face increased demands in the future.

Currently, construction timber is in short supply and is increasing in cost, so you need to plan around this. Similarly, UK firms are experiencing growing issues getting hold of cement, aggregates, steel, plastics, bricks, roof tiles, plumbing items, screws and fixings. The delays on these items are likely to increase, further increasing lead times and costs.

If your required materials have long lead times or are continuously delayed, contacting your suppliers to see what alternatives they can provide you with could help your projects stay on track. It may also be the case that you need to diversify your supply chain to improve your access to materials.

Review current subcontractors

It is also a good idea to review your current list of subcontractors to see whether you may need to find new or additional subcontractors.

Look at how each has dealt with the challenges over the last year and how they manage ongoing issues, including finances. It will give you a good indication of how strong your list currently is and highlight any potential delays or service gaps that you need to address.

Reassess projects

Once you have a clear understanding of what shortages and delays are likely to affect you, you need to reassess work in terms of project timeframes, cash flow, quality, contracts and profit margins. As things become clearer in terms of your supply chain and materials deliveries, reassessing your likely volume of work to adjust your budget will be incredibly important.

construction cost consultant can help you with this. We ensure that budgets are accurate and that projects are still profitable, even with current materials shortages and other roadblocks. We can also highlight any other potential problems you might face and provide solutions based on decades of industry experience.