Roofing & building materials product availability: Separating the fact from the fiction: Summer 2021

Roofing & building materials product availability: Separating the fact from the fiction: Summer 2021

Why are there shortages of building materials?

There are a number of reasons that have all happened at the same time:

Even before the Covid pandemic and resultant lockdowns the supply of construction materials was only just meeting demand. The building industry in the UK has been far more buoyant for many years than the media would have you believe: New houses are being built seemingly everywhere and there are huge amounts of refurbishment and renovation projects nationally.

With similarly high demand globally, and with many manufacturers trading across the world, the manufacturers were keeping pace - just.

During the first lockdown much of the country, and the world (particularly major manufacturing nations in Europe and China), stopped, however certain sectors such as construction were permitted by the UK Government to keep working, and Builders and Roofing merchants (amongst other building materials suppliers) were allowed to trade to supply the construction and maintenance sector.

Meanwhile, as the manufacturers and importers were shut, the merchants sold much of their stock, resulting in a peak of demand when the importers and manufacturers eventually re-opened. However many of the importers and manufacturers were then not operating at full capacity due to the implementation of social distancing in the workplace (factories for example could not work to peak output because many staff were continued to be furloughed even after the business reopened as their workplaces could not support social distancing for all staff).

Imports slowed partly because the world came to a stop: Manufacturers abroad stopped manufacturing, hauliers were not transporting materials, ports were closed etc. Once they resumed work, demand had risen massively and there were backlogs of products to be made, shipped, sold and delivered.

Changes to UK import and export regulations due to Brexit were a further complication as many UK businesses faced not only higher costs, significantly increased administration, and delays at ports as Port and Customs staff dealt with increase in paperwork.

A global shortage of shipping containers, shortages of raw materials, and HGV driver shortages in the European and UK haulage industry have also contributed to the situation.

Roofing and building materials available from About Roofing Supplies

How are the shortages affecting availability?

Construction materials suppliers such as builders and roofing merchants have been working closely with their suppliers: Back orders are placed - often for months ahead - to ensure that the merchant's orders are 'in the queue', and to help the manufacturer to plan production.

However, if a manufacturer can only make a million roof tiles a day for example, and they take orders for 1.2 million roof tiles each day, backlogs ensue meaning that decisions have to be made to prioritise production to favour certain products. This results in there being lead times on many products: It is not that they are not being manufactured, ordered and sold, it is simply that demand exceeds supply.

It is a similar situation with imported products: If orders exceed the amount coming into the country, backlogs are the result.

Building and roofing materials available from About Roofing Supplies

What are the Construction materials suppliers doing about this?

Estimating future demand is an extremely challenging task as with thousands of products available and unprecedented levels of demand it is very difficult to know what to order and in what quantities.

We are forward ordering materials with the manufacturers and importers as much as possible, however we are also encouraging customers to forward order to help us to help them: After all a re-roof or extension are rarely if ever 'emergency' projects, and will have been thought about and planned for months if not years in advance, so planning that little further ahead and ordering in good time rather than a day or two before the materials are required, is common sense and is for many products the only solution.

At About Roofing Supplies, we are working very hard to maintain our lines of supply, and to stock as much of as many products as we can, and to supply backorders as quickly as possible.

Many of our customers are, in turn, working closely with us and placing orders in good time which enables us to get the materials to site when required, and our customers to start their projects in the planned timeframe.

Our website clearly indicates where there are issues with availability and we are encouraging our customers to talk to us as we can often offer alternative products to those requested, which in many cases enable a project to proceed rather then being delayed because of product availability.

The following article on the roofing industry publication website, Roofing Today, explores the issues discussed above, and adds an extra perspective to many of the points made in this blog post: Read it here

Where can I find roofing and building materials near me?

You can view and order roofing and building materials, as well as our wide range of clay roof tiles and concrete roof tiles in any of our branches listed below or we can deliver nationwide:

Dorking, Surrey branch

Redhill, Surrey branch

Esher, Surrey branch

East Grinstead, West Sussex branch