Lead times for brick supplies are forecast to increase this year with house builders advised to work closely with manufacturers to ensure delivery and mitigate delays.

The Brick Development Association has said imports will help meet the current UK shortfall until new lines come on stream in 2023 and 2024.

“While this may require flexibility around choice and specification, quantities should be sufficient to meet demand,” said the Association.

The Construction Leadership Council’s product availability group, PAG, has flagged up rising prices of bricks, steel, cement, blocks, glass and ceramic tiles as a result of increased energy costs.

Repair and maintenance activity slows

It said although most SME builders had 2022 full order books for residential repairs, maintenance and improvement the sector had seen a slowdown due to increased costs and lead-in times.

“This softening has, in fact, helped improve some stocks, such as cement, held by manufacturers and merchants,” said Construction Products chief executive Peter Caplehorn and Builders Merchants Federation chief executive John Newcomb in a joint PAG statement.

Timber battens have now overtaken tiles as the most difficult product to obtain for roofing work. Electronic components made from steel such as cable trays and twin and earth cables are in short supply too.

“Product pricing continues to be a challenge, particularly for medium-sized contractors working on tight fixed-price contracts,” said PAG.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said lenders could help SMEs facing delays with short-term bridging finance at competitive rates.

PAG added that imports, particularly from the Far East, were being held up due to port delays and high container costs. It warned that while the shortage of lorry drivers had lessened this problem could re-emerge in the lead up to Christmas causing further pressure.

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