Roof Tile Availability: Separating The Fact From The Fiction: Summer 2017

A related post entitled 'Roof Tile Availability - A Permanent Change To Roof Tile Availability?: Autumn 2017' is available here.

We receive calls and emails every single day from roofing contractors, developers, commercial Facilities Managers, householders, and even other roofing suppliers desperately trying to source roof tiles. Many have been told snippets of truth, half heard rumours, and occasionally complete fiction as to why roof tiles are "hard to get" or "discontinued", so the point of this blog is to separate the fact from the fiction, and to shed some light on the situation as we know it.

Firstly, lets dispel some myths: Many roof tiles are readily available, none of the manufacturers are going bust and nothing has been discontinued. Honestly.

Secondly, it is rare that we are unable to find a suitable product that can be supplied quickly, to enable our customers to complete a project. We may suggest or offer a different colour, a different tile, or even another solution altogether, but there is almost always a solution that enables jobs to be completed.

So what is going on? The reality seems to be that some popular roof tiles are on long lead times, which puzzles people. All we hear on the news is that new houses are not being built, that there is a lack of affordable housing and that many of us, especially those in their twenties and thirties, have become "generation rent" because they can't afford to buy the few houses that are being built.

However, the truth is that far more houses are being built that people realise, as the following statistics released by the Department for Communities and Local Govenment in March 2017 illustrate: 

House building; new build dwellings, England: March Quarter 2017

  • On a quarterly basis, new build dwelling starts in England were estimated at 43,170 (seasonally adjusted) in the latest quarter, a 3 per cent increase compared to the previous 3 months and 21 per cent increase on a year earlier.
  • Completions were estimated at 39,520 (seasonally adjusted), 9 per cent higher than the previous quarter and 21 per cent higher than a year ago.
  • Annual new build dwelling starts totalled 162,880 in the year to March 2017, up by 15 per cent compared with the year to March 2016. During the same period, completions totalled 147,960, an increase of 6 per cent compared with last year.
  • Private enterprise new build dwelling starts (seasonally adjusted) were 4 per cent higher in the March quarter 2017 than the previous quarter, and completions were 12 per cent higher. Starts by housing associations were 2 per cent higher compared to the last quarter and completions 5 per cent lower.
  • All starts are now 152 per cent above the trough in the March quarter 2009 and 12 per cent below the March quarter 2007 peak. All completions are 57 per cent above the trough in the March quarter 2013 and 18 per cent below their March quarter 2007 peak.

All of those new houses need roofs - and that is what is causing some supply issues.

One of the major manufacturers recently revealed - off the record - that they can manufacture 1 million roof tiles a week, but they are actually taking orders for 1.4 million roof tiles on average every week - so every month they have back orders of 1.6 - 2 million roof tiles!

So, demand is oustripping supply? Well, yes and no.

With a handful of exceptions, all brands, types and colours of roof tiles are still being manufactured and are being supplied by the manufacturers, albeit with a wait of a few weeks to a number of weeks, depending on the tile and colour.

It s certainly true that the traditional roofer's practice of turning up on site, stripping the roof and ordering the replacement tiles that day, for delivery the next working day is inadvisable at the moment, and may well be for the forseeable future, because with supplies not as readily available from the manufacturers as they used to be, every tile, in every colour is not always available on demand.

However, plenty of tiles are available, and we have large stocks - this is because we are placing large orders with all of the manufacturers to ensure that we are receiving regular deliveries to keep our stocks topped up.

One solution to this situation that many prudent customers are adopting, is to forward order the tiles that they require. Particuarly with new build projects and re-roofs, as they are not emergency jobs, roofers and developers often know when they are looking to carry out the work months before, so they wisely order the tiles that they require in plenty of time to ensure that the brand, type and colour of tiles that they require are on site exactly when they want them to be!

Alternatively, many customers come to us with an open mind, knowing that even though they may not actually be supplied with their original choice of tile or colour, that we will work hard for them to ensure that we can supply an alternative product that will fulfill their requirements.

So, we suggest that you don't listen to the doom and gloom stories, but contact our friendly sales team instead to see how we can 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.