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Rebuilding Construction: Brick Shortages Ease in UK

A UK wide brick shortage which left many in the construction industry paying a premium for basic materials is finally easing according to August’s figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Recent shortages have caused costs to escalate, while depriving many contractors of the choice they want from suppliers, resulting in less-than-perfect, over budget projects.

But improvement is on the horizon. The ONS’s latest round of figures shows that production among manufacturers has risen by 7% to meet the surge in demand responsible for triggering the latest shortfall. Confronted by 2014’s surge in construction (caused by the implementation of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme), many manufacturers were simply unprepared to meet demand, leading to nationwide shortages with stock levels dwindling to 323 million in October 2014.

To put this slump into perspective, in 2009 stock levels were healthy at 1 billion. In 2012, they were at a respectable 500 million. 2014’s crash of over 1.5 million left many in the industry confronting delays, busted budgets and issues with sourcing appropriate materials for more demanding projects.

Fortunately, brick manufacturers have now stepped up to the plate, ramping up production and creating almost 1 million bricks in just 6 months. This strong response from a sector shackled by the fact it is highly capital intensive, has led to stock levels climbing 33% to hit a much more positive 450 million mark. The turnaround has reduced hefty lead in times and left customers with a much more diverse range of products to choose from.

Has your work been affected by the UK’s brick shortages? Should manufacturers have been more prepared to cope with 2014’s surge in demand? Who is to blame for months of costly builds and lack of choice? Share your thoughts with other readers below.