Supply chain problems are expected to resurface in the New Year due to Omicron’s effect on production and operations, the Construction Leadership Council, CLC, has warned.

The CLC fears SME builders working on improvements, domestic repair and maintenance where clients want price certainty will be most affected.

In a joint statement Builders Merchants Federation chief executive John Newcomb and Construction Products Association chief executive Peter Caplehorn said: “It is essential to maintain open lines of communication throughout the supply chain. We encourage all sectors to continue to work closely and collaboratively to manage challenges and plan future work.”

Bricks and blocks are still in short supply with imported products helping to meet a shortfall in UK capacity until new lines come on stream in 2023 and 2024. Consistently high demand for blocks over the last 19 months has made it difficult for manufacturers to build stock levels to offer regular supply throughout the year.

Roof tile demand remains high with lead times averaging 24 weeks while tongue and groove timber remains in short supply.

Port congestion forecast in 2022

The CLC’s product availability working group warned continuing congestion in UK and Scandinavian ports could lead to reduced timber supplies and higher prices in the first quarter of 2022.

Global shipping delays and volatile prices are expected to continue into 2022, said the group. It said added that performance issues at Felixstowe had meant some major shipping lines from Asia were diverting to smaller UK ports.

But lorry driver shortages are expected to have less of an impact in 2022 as training initiatives, grants, better pay and working flexibility have made it easier to attract staff.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders would be encouraging SME builders to factor this into their business plans and borrowing needs.

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