Bricks and roof tiles are in short supply with demand outstripping supply against a backdrop of rising inflation, the Construction Leadership Council, CLC, has warned.

Imports of bricks from the EU and globally are set to continue until three new UK brickmaking plants come on stream next year and in 2024. The new factories are predicted to boost UK annual capacity by about 150m bricks per year.

The CLC’s product availability group co-chairs John Newcomb and Peter Caplehorn said: “We continue to stress the importance of maintaining open lines of communication throughout the supply chain and encourage all sectors to continue to work closely and collaboratively to manage challenges and plan future work.”

Aerated concrete blocks, steel lintels, manhole covers, plastic drainage products, sealants, coatings and paints are also hard to come by.

Lack of semi-conductors is constraining boiler supply at a time of high demand although the CLC said insufficient supplies were not due to chip shortages.

However, the product availability group said there were relatively good stocks of other prices and reported timber prices have fallen from their peak in May 2021.

Disruption forecast for global imports

The Beijing Winter Olympics next month will mean 64 factories in northern Chinese cities will close to improve air quality. The CLC warns this will have a knock-on effect on the level of some products later in 2022.

Global shipping delays are expected to continue until the third quarter of 2022 due to China’s ‘zero’ policy over Covid. Seven out of the top ten container ports are in China and the CLC predicts the country will shut down some of their ports if there are any Covid outbreaks.

Rising energy costs and inflation is a concern for construction with forecasts predicting price increases of up to ten per cent for certain products. Office of National Statistics data showed the cost price index rising to 5.4 per cent in December, above city economists’ predictions of 5.2 per cent. Expectations the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee when it meets early next month will increase the base rate by another 0.5 per cent are growing.

Bridging finance brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders were still offering construction loans and instant bridging finance at competitive rates.

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