There were no significant changes to lead times for materials this quarter, indicating that the market is levelling out, says Brian Moone of Mace. Overleaf, he turns the spotlight on tall buildings

01 Going up

  • Rotary piling
  • Suspended ceilings
  • Internal stone wall and floor finishes
  • Escalators

02 Staying level

  • Precast piling
  • Concrete works
  • Structural steel works
  • Natural material cladding
  • Curtain walling
  • Metal panels
  • Atrium roofs
  • Asphalt and membrane roofs
  • Facade cleaning equipment
  • Blockwork
  • Brickwork
  • Metal doors
  • Drylining
  • Demountable partitions
  • Specialist joinery
  • Raised floors
  • Architectural metalwork
  • Decorative wall covering
  • Soft floor finishes
  • Passenger lifts (non-standard)
  • Electrical suppliers
  • Mechanical suppliers
  • Ductwork
  • Sprinklers
  • Air-conditioning plant
  • Uninterruptible power supply
  • Switchgear
  • Generators
  • Controls
  • Data and voice cabling
  • Logistics
  • Hard landscaping

03 Going down

  • Reconstituted stone cladding
  • General joinery
  • Profiled metal roofing

04 Lead times summary

Although lead times continue to grow, they appear to be slowing and levelling out, with no significant changes reported this quarter. Only three packages reported a decrease.

Pre-cast piling remained the same at six weeks, but rotary piling was the first to show signs of the rise predicted last quarter – lead times rose by one week to eight weeks and are predicted to rise again next quarter.

The lead time for concrete works remained at 10 weeks. Structural steelwork remained at 14 for contractors that partnered with steel suppliers.

The lead-time for re-constructed stone cladding marginally reduced to 26 weeks, owing to reduced design time. Natural material cladding remained at 29 weeks and curtain walling levelled at 48 weeks following a run of increases. Metal panels also remained static, at 36 weeks

Lead times for atrium roofs remained at 25 weeks; however contractors are predicting this to rise. Profiled metal roofs’ increase last quarter may have been a one-off, with lead times falling by three weeks to 16 weeks, whereas asphalt and membrane roofs remained at 10 weeks with no changes forecast for the next quarter.

The unusually high lead time of 35 weeks for facade cleaning equipment remained for the second quarter. This was exacerbated by the increasing complexity of projects.

Brickwork and blockwork remained static at six and four weeks respectively. Metal doors remained at eight, with no change forecast. Drylining lead times remain at nine with no change forecast.

Lead times for demountable partitions were at eight weeks, as forecast last quarter. General joinery lead times reduced by one week to 11, with no movement on the lead-in of specialist joinery , which stayed at about 16 weeks.

Raised floors remained static at six weeks. The reduced lead time last quarter for suspended ceilings appears to have been a spike in the trend as it increased to 16 weeks.

Architectural metalwork lead times remained at 12 weeks. The average lead-in for decorative wall covering remained at four weeks for the past five quarters. Order books for the next quarter are forecast to remain steady. Internal stone floor and wall finish continued to climb, increasing by a further two weeks to 22 weeks.

Soft floor finish lead times remained at seven weeks. For non-standard passenger lifts the average lead time remained at 39 weeks. Escalator lead times increased by two weeks to 24 weeks owing mainly to increases in design time.

Electrical suppliers and mechanical suppliers remained static and reported 23 and 20-week lead times, respectively.

The lead-in time for ductwork remained at seven weeks. Sprinkler lead times remained the same at nine weeks. There was no reported change from 16 weeks for air-conditioning plant and uninterruptible power supply remained at 10. Switch gear stayed at 16 weeks. There was no reported change from 20 weeks for generators and controls’ lead times stood at 13 weeks.

Data and voice cabling remained at six weeks. Logistics remained at four. Hard landscaping lead times were seven weeks.

The forecast for the next quarter is for a continuation of the strong order book, as many of the follow-on packages benefit from the buoyant market.

A few M&E contractors are reporting the first signs of a repeat of last year’s copper shortage, which increased lead times. The increase in the number of tall buildings, the London Olympics and associated infrastructure are starting to put pressure on the supply of services to this market, including cladding and complex steel design.