April 12,2022

Construction Materials Shortage: Prices Soar 24.5% in One Year

by David Stewart

This year's construction materials shortage has seen prices for all building work soar by 24.5% in October compared to one year prior, according to new stats from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The costs of repair and maintenance have risen even higher, a 26.2% increase compared to October 2020, which could have a significant impact on those in the midst of renovating a house.

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While the market is no longer experiencing the extremely high levels of demand for materials such as timber and plasterboard seen earlier this year, these figures reflect the challenge still facing homebuilders and those taking on home improvements.

If you're in the midst of a self build or renovation, read on to help plan ahead for your project, and learn which materials are facing price rises or shortages heading into 2022.

What's the Latest With the Construction Materials Shortage?

Dwindling supplies of key building materials such as roof tiles, cement and steel have impacted the construction industry all year, and prices have soared across several materials.

The price of materials rose every month between September 2020-September 2021 last 12 months, according to the BEIS Monthly Statistics of Building Materials and Components report. Month-on-month prices rose 1% from September to October.

There is also uncertainty over product availability, and demand continues to outstrip supply for certain products, according to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).

In a joint statement last month, John Newcomb and Peter Caplehorn, co-chairs of the CLC's Product Availability working group, say that rising inflation and energy costs, as well as uncertainty over a potential spike in Covid cases over the winter, are all factors affecting the materials shortage.

The cost of materials for repair and maintenance work has risen 25.5% in a year (Image credit: Getty Images)

The impact of full border controls that come into force at the end of this year (affecting imports from the EU into the UK) is a further unknown.

However, the "the picture is more positive than seen in recent months, with improved availability of most products across most regions," they added.

Which Materials are Affected?

Roof tiles

There continues to be extended lead times on both concrete and clay roof tiles, averaging around 20-24 weeks, but can be up to 36 weeks for some products, according to the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC).

"With high demand from the housebuilding industry expected to continue well into 2022, this is not likely to come down any time soon," said Philip Campbell, Head of Policy at the NFRC.

“In Q3 of 2021, 92% of our members saw the price of materials rise on the previous quarter. This is likely to continue to be an ongoing concern due to the higher costs of raw materials, rising energy prices, and trade disruptions.”


British Steel stopped taking orders on structural steel sections in May due to “extreme demand”, before raising transaction prices in June for structural sections by £80 per tonne for all new orders. There's currently a shortage of steel lintels.

Moreover, the rising cost of gas and electricity and associated carbon costs could lead to significant price increases - including for ceramic products, glass and bricks, according to the CLC.


Cement production dropped by 11.4% in 2021, BEIS says, and supplies of bagged cement have been strained since late last year.

Paint and coatings are in short supply. (Image credit: getty images)


There is a shortage of timber battens. But last month the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) reported "record-breaking" imports of timber since the beginning of 2021, assuaging ongoing concerns following the timber shortage earlier this year.

Bricks and blocks

There are "ongoing challenges" with supply, the CLC says. This could be a longer-term issue, with the Brick Development Association suggesting that with demand expected to remain high, lead times will be an issue for the coming year.

Paints and sealants

Supplies to the UK continue to be restricted due to a global shortage and cost of shipping containers.

Plaster and plasterboard

There was a severe plaster shortage earlier this year, and while supplies improved earlier this year, plasterboard has been subject to extended lead times.

There have also reportedly been shortages this year of:



Electrical components

PIR insulation

Kitchen carcassing


PE and PP plastics



Plumbing items


Shower enclosures

Will the Shortage Continue into 2022?

This is an uncertain time if you're in the midst of a project or planning a project in 2022. The materials shortage has now impacted the construction industry for over a year, but there are signs that the shortage could be easing.

The CLC reported in November that product supply has improved in some areas, while "demand for construction products has fallen from the peaks seen during spring and summer".

And while a lack of lorry drivers to move materials between sites continues to exacerbate the shortage, "reported constraints relating to a shortage of HGV drivers have lessened for the time being", the CLC says, though the pre-Christmas period may cause further pressure.

There is a nationwide shortage in lorry drivers. (Image credit: Getty Images)

However, supplies of timber could remain uneven going into the new year, due to delays at ports which have slowed production at timber mills in Scandinavia, where a large proportion of UK timber is produced. Brick supplies could be reduced too.

And Nick Boulton, head of technical and trade at TTF, has warned that deliveries remain a problem. “We are not yet out the woods as any return to ‘regular’ patterns within the UK market will be difficult amidst the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers, and in fuel and labour, which are likely to continue to impact the market in the coming months."

When Will Building Materials Prices Stop Rising?

Prices have increased due to lengthening lead times and increasing demand, which has made it difficult for manufacturers and suppliers to build up stock levels.

Jewson said in September that its prices for materials including timber, wheelbarrows, insulation and adhesives will rise by as much as a fifth. And Travis Perkins announced price rises earlier this year.

The FMB's October State of Trade Survey revealed that 97% of its members are experiencing price rises. And nine out of 10 material suppliers expect costs to increase further over the next 12 months, according to the Construction Products Association (CPA).

These are some of the materials which continue to be affected:

Materials Price Tracker Material Information Timber Timber prices remain volatile, and the price of imported sawn or planed wood has increased 69.6% over the last 12 months (BEIS) Steel Fabricated structural steel prices jumped 70.6% between October 2020 and October 2021 (BEIS) Cement Prices are likely to increase over the next few months due to increased energy costs (CLC) Paint The costs of paints and varnishes are up by nearly a third (Construction Products Association) Chipboard Chipboard costs went up by 10% in May (Travis Perkins)

Why is There a Building Materials Shortage?

The construction materials shortage can in part be traced back to increased building and home improvement activity in 2020, particularly during the first lockdown. This led to a slowdown in the production of materials from some factories in the EU, and supply chains have remained stretched ever since.

But while construction output reached a 24-year high in June, demand has not been met by supply, and suppliers' delivery times have lengthened.

Lack of lorry drivers

There is a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000, according to a survey of Road Haulage Association member estimates.

Labour challenges

Labour rates have skyrocketed in some areas, due to a combination of demand outstripping labour supply, and some trades putting up their rates due to being overwhelmed with work.

The FMB says that 82% of builders have delayed jobs due to a lack of materials, while 60% have pressed pause on a job due to a lack of tradespeople. The survey revealed that the quantities of general labourers, carpenters/joiners and plasterers were all down by 6% since the last survey.

Many of us have taken to DIY and home improvement projects during the past year. (Image credit: Belderbos Landscapes)

There were 43,000 construction job vacancies between July and September, the first-time this figure has ever risen over 40,000, according to the ONS.

And Noble Francis from the CPA expects 500,000 UK-born workers to leave the industry in the next 10 years as a demographic “bulge” of 50 to 65-year-olds retires.

Brexit uncertainty

Knock-on effects from Brexit remain, with roughly 60% of imported materials used in UK construction projects comes from the EU, according to the CLC.

The TTF said in May that Brexit-related complications have squeezed UK timber stocks, as 80% of the softwood used in building comes from Europe, and 90% of the softwood used for new build homes comes from the continent.

Francis adds that January's new immigration system has made it harder to tempt EU workers back who left during the pandemic. “The small builders and specialist contractors are likely to be the worst affected by this as they are the least likely to have the resources available."


The impact of Covid-19 has decreased UK imports of building materials by more than £2m, according to a study from ElectricalDirect.

Raw materials

There has been a global shortage of raw material shortages, stemming from global demand and other external factors (including the slowdown and in some instances, factory closures, outside the UK), which continues to constrain production of certain products, such as insulation, paints and adhesives, as well as packaging for products.

How to Navigate Shortages

If you’re planning or in the middle of building work, then planning as far as you can in advance is pivotal to ensure you aren’t caught out by shortages or price rises.

The CLC advises self builders to work closely with their supply chain and communicate your requirements early with suppliers, distributors and builders merchants.

And Brian Berry says: “Product availability is proving to be a significant and prolonged issue for Britain’s builders, and consumers need to be aware that the cost of their building projects may change in the months ahead because of this pressure.

“However, I would caution against homeowners compromising quality and customer service, and defaulting to hire the builder with the cheapest quote.”

You can also use services such as Environmate to discover free and cheap building materials for your project.

  • David Stewart
  • April 12,2022

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