Timber, steel, roof tiles and bagged cement remain among most hard-to-find products

Shortages of construction materials show no signs of improving and will likely persist into the second half of this year, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has warned.

Overall availability of products has seen no change this month as demand both in the UK and globally continues to “dramatically outstrip supply”, the body said in an update.

It added the shortages show few signs of slowing during the traditionally busy summer months, with record sales of building materials putting “enormous” pressure on supply chains which are still in the process of recovery from the pandemic.

The warning came in a joint statement from Builders Merchants Federation chief executive John Newcomb and Construction Products Association chief executive Peter Caplehorn, who co-chair the CLC’s product availability working group.

They said that timber, roof tiles and some steel products continue to be in short supply, while ongoing shortages of bagged cement may have been worsened by manufacturers carrying out overdue preventative maintenance works.

Sealants and chemical products are also still facing shortages, with a lack of metal cans contributing to a shortage of paint.

And shortages of insulation boards have deteriorated further, with PIR becoming harder to obtain and contractors now actively seeking alternatives, while one major manufacturer of plasterboard has indicated that their products are going on allocation.

Meanwhile, shortages of electrical products are being compounded by a shipping backlog in China’s Pearl River Delta, where hundreds of container ships are waiting for berths to become available.

The Electrical Contractors Association and its Scottish counterpart, Select, are warning the blockage already surpasses that of the Suez Canal earlier this year and is likely to lead to extended delays.

Emigration of EU-born hauliers is also contributing to the problems while UK drivers having to undertake covid tests, with those testing positive having to isolate, compounding a lack of drivers.

The CLC said: “The UK has lost 15,000 European drivers this year due to Brexit and 30,000 UK driver tests due to Covid, which has exacerbated the driver shortage.”

It added: “Inevitably, all of this is feeding into price inflation, and the expectation is that high demand coupled with tight supply will sustain elevated prices throughout the year.

“As we emphasised last month, forward planning and ongoing communication throughout the supply chain is essential to assist with reliable delivery dates and to manage expectations about any shortages or allocations.

The CLC said builders and contractors should also maintain open communications with their customers regarding lead times, possible product substitutions and early notice of potential price increases.