Roof Tile Availability - A Permanent Change To Roof Tile Availability?: Autumn 2017


In June this year I wrote a blog entitled “Roof Tile Availability: Separating The Fact From The Fiction” in which I addressed some of the rumours that were circulating regarding the current availability – or otherwise – of many popular brands, types and colours of roof tiles, and why many can seem to be be hard to obtain.

In that blog I explained that demand is currently outstripping supply, and that the roof tile manufacturers are working flat out to meet demand.

We are still receiving calls and emails on a daily basis, from customers frustrated in their efforts to easily locate roof tiles and fittings for their projects, and many of them are expressing surprise that lead times apply to many roof tiles.

The situation affecting the availability of roof tiles has been existant since Summer 2016, and as the latest figures from the Government show (below), with the pace of housebuilding continuing to increase – despite what you hear on the news – the situation regarding roof tile availability does not look likely to improve in the short term, or possibly ever:

Housebuilding starts reach eight-year high, says DCLG

  • New home starts in the past year have reached their highest level since the slump of 2009, according to housebuilding statistics issued by the Department for Communities & Local Government.
  • The report stated that there were 164,960 homes started in the year to June 2017, an increase of 13% on the previous year.
  • More than 153,000 homes were completed during the same period, 11% ahead of the June 2016 figure.
  • However, housing starts in England decreased by 3% to 41,180 in the latest quarter, compared to the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, though that was a 10% increase on the position a year earlier.
  • Seasonally adjusted completions were estimated at 40,310, which was 2% higher than the previous quarter and 15% higher than a year ago.
  • Private builders’ contributions to the totals were unchanged for both starts and completions against the previous quarter.
  • Housing association starts were 19% lower at 5,280 compared to the previous quarter, though completions were up by 17% to 7,200.
  • Local authorities starts were down by 3% at 320 but completions were up by 2% to 380. DCLG said starts of all kinds were now 141% above the low point of March 2009 and only 16% below their March 2007 peak.

Demand was outstripping supply in Summer 2016, and now that demand has continued to grow, is there any likelihood that we will see a return to the days when roof tiles could effectively be supplied on Demand? Industry insiders suggest not.

Bear in mind that the situation is not that tiles are not being manufactured and supplied – far from it! The manufacturers are continuing to manufacture roof tiles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – and we are selling them as quickly as they are released for sale by the manufacturer, the issue simply remains that demand continues to outstrip supply.

Traditional practices of stripping a roof, and ordering the tiles at that stage are no longer applicable in today’s market – if the materials required for a project are ordered in good time, then they can be supplied to site as and when required.

We have already seen a major shift in roofing contractors and builders who have adjusted their planning methodology and are now ordering the tiles that they need well in advance of actually needing them – for example, we have received a delivery of 36,000 clay interlocking tiles this week that we ordered 8 weeks ago because of the lead time – 35,000 are sold before they are even delivered to us, because the customers who have contacted us searching for them have followed our suggestions and have ordered them in advance of needing them, and will subsequently have the tiles delivered to site when required, and their projects will be able to proceed according to plan!

Interestingly, colleagues in builders, joinery and plumbers merchants have told us that lead times apply to many of their most popular products and have done for years, so perhaps the roofing industry is simply evolving in the same way, and as mentioned above, a lot of professional contractors have adapted to the paradigm shift in availability quickly – perhaps because they are already used to a similar situation affecting the other materials that they purchase for other aspects of their projects.

If time is an insurmountable factor then we will continue to suggest alternative brands, types and colours of roof tiles - often we can guide a customer towards a tile that they had not even considered or been aware of, and can even on occasion save them money by sharing our knowledge and experience of the products available.

So, please continue to call and email us – our friendly sales teams are here to help! 

We are able to offer prices tailored to your exact requirements & project: Please call us on 01737 763008 or email us here for a free quotation.