Cost of building materials soars due to supply issues

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In what has been described as a ‘perfect storm’ by one businessman, increased post-Brexit paperwork and the disruption to supply chains caused by the pandemic are understood to be causing long delays in supplies reaching the Island.

Harvey Mitchell, of Mitchell Building Contractors, said that raw-material costs in his sector were due to increase by as much as 50%.

‘We have certainly seen an increase in material costs in the past six to 12 months, in particular since the onset of Covid,’ he said. ‘Since the start of the year it has got more difficult to get materials into the Island. There is a lot more paperwork because of Brexit and that is slowing everything down.

‘Building materials that we took for granted have become difficult to get hold of and we were recently informed of a number of price rises.’

Mr Mitchell explained that, from the start of next month, the cost of MDF wood from his supplier would go up 8%, OSB boards between 8% and 18%, drainage materials by up to 50% and British Gypsum by 11%.

Building supplies firm Normans recently advised its customers of similar price rises on a number of materials.

‘This is going to impact on profits in the building sector and affect the price of tenders,’ said Mr Mitchell

‘The cost of steel is also very high at the moment. I only see things getting worse. Once Covid-19 is over there is going to be a boom and there will be even more demand on an already stretched supply chain,’ he added.

Jersey Consumer Council chairman Carl Walker said that he had heard reports of both high demand for work and low supply of goods and materials in the building trade.

‘We are aware of issues with the costs of building supplies at the moment and that is concerning because it means that the cost of building new homes in the Island will go up even more,’ he said.

‘We are also aware that there is currently huge demand for building work, not just on large-scale projects but also on micro projects. With the housing market as it is and people not going away on holidays, they have been spending more on their homes.

‘There are reports of people being told they will have to wait two years to get certain things done because demand is so high. There are both supply and demand issues at the moment.’

Paul Clark, managing director of MyPad furniture store, said that for his business there had been a ‘perfect storm’ of supply issues over the last year.

‘The challenge we have got with garden furniture is that it is mainly produced in the Far East. There has been a shortage of containers and there was no production in China last year due to the pandemic,’ he said. ‘There’s also Brexit and, to retailers, it seems that Jersey hasn’t really got to grips with it yet. We are having to fill in all this extra paperwork to import things and we’re just not used to doing it. And it may seem a long time ago but the crisis where the Suez Canal was blocked caused a massive backlog, which is still happening.

‘It’s a perfect storm at the moment and it’s proving really difficult. This is on top of the challenges we already faced with increased use of online shopping.’

Tony Simmons, of Simmons & Co furniture, said that many businesses in Jersey were currently facing a backlog of orders, with product components often sourced from different countries.

‘Most retailers in Jersey have similar problems and we all have orders outstanding at the moment,’ he said.

‘This comes down to a combination of factors such as Brexit and Covid. People can’t buy parts for furniture, for example foam or springs, which are made in different countries. It has got quite serious and we are having to explain to customers why these delays, which can last for quite long periods, are happening.’

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