Building prices go through the roof: Shortages and surge in Covid lockdown projects

Building prices go through the roof: Shortages and surge in Covid lockdown projects send costs…

Building prices go through the roof: Shortages and surge in Covid lockdown projects send costs soaring at fastest rate since the last century, new data shows

  • Unprecedented demand for extensions, loft conversions, landscape gardening 
  • Builders say they have to go back to customers ‘daily’ with increased quotes 
  • The price rises over the summer were the highest since records began in 1997 










The cost of building materials for home improvements is rising at the fastest rate since the 1990s, data suggests.

‘Unprecedented’ demand for extensions, loft conversions and landscape gardening, amid a supply shortage, has led to prices ‘going through the roof’.

Builders say they are having to go back to customers ‘almost daily’ with increased quotes as merchants raise their fees.

One said he had been forced to increase the predicted cost of an extension from £20,000 to £27,000 – up 35 per cent.

Builders say they are having to go back to customers ‘almost daily’ with increased quotes as merchants raise their fees

The price rises over the summer were the highest since records began in 1997, according to research group IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

And the high demand has come against ‘sustained and severe’ disruption to supply chains caused by global shipping chaos and the shortage of lorry drivers, forcing customers to wait up to eight months for deliveries of items such as bricks. The price of some wood products has almost doubled year on year, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

The cost of a typical 4.8metre (15ft 9in) length of sawn treated timber has risen from £17 to £29, while the cost of a 2.4metre (7ft 10in) length of plywood has increased from £34 to £62.

The price of tiles has gone up by close to a third, from £1.20 to £1.58, with builders facing six-month waits for deliveries.

Cement has risen in price by a fifth year on year, meaning a 25kg (3st 13lb) bag now costs more than £5, up from £4.20. 

Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, said the pressures on supply were ‘formidable’, adding: ‘Material and staff costs went through the roof [in August].’

John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, said: ‘If Mrs Miggins is having a loft extension done she is going to pay more for materials. Merchants cannot absorb those increases, they have had to pass them on.

‘Anybody who is doing any work will be paying a lot more for that work now than they would have a year ago.’

The chaos in global shipping has also contributed, with the cost of a container from China reportedly increasing from £1,800 a year ago to £8,640 today.

The chaos in global shipping has also contributed, with the cost of a container from China reportedly increasing from £1,800 a year ago to £8,640 today.

Boris Johnson has looked to infrastructure projects as a way of kick-starting the economy, meaning homeowners are competing with national construction projects for materials

Boris Johnson has looked to infrastructure projects as a way of kick-starting the economy, meaning homeowners are competing with national construction projects for materials

Rico Wojtulewicz, of the National Federation of Builders, said: ‘It’s completely and utterly unprecedented. We’re hearing evidence that the largest housebuilders are going direct to manufacturers, which means there’s less stock for home repairs work.’

Demand for improvements rocketed as families stuck at home used lockdown savings to build home offices and improve gardens. 

At the same time Boris Johnson has looked to infrastructure projects as a way of kick-starting the economy, meaning homeowners are competing with national construction projects for materials.

The chaos in global shipping has also contributed, with the cost of a container from China reportedly increasing from £1,800 a year ago to £8,640 today.

A long-standing lack of skilled builders is also pushing up the price of labour and forcing households to wait several months to start projects.

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