Price increases, the skills shortage and a lack of clear guidance on imminent changes to the Building Regulations are among the key concerns reported by builders in the most recent State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The FMB states that builders “are in need of urgent clear guidance to help them understand changes” to the building regulations coming into force in England, on 15th June, which aim to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, with its State of Trade Survey revealing that a “startling” 52% of builders are not yet prepared or aware of the changes.
The changes are interim measures ahead of the Future Homes and Building Standards set for 2025 and, according to the FMB, these are complex changes for small, time poor, builders to take on and so the organisation is urging the Government to provide clear guidance to help ensure small builders are informed.
Prices are also said to be “really impacting bottom lines”, with 98% of builders having had material costs increase and 83% passing on these costs to customers. Material shortages and a lack of skills still “plague the sector, causing job delays for the majority of FMB members”. It reports 73% of builders have delayed jobs due a lack of materials and 55% are delaying work owing to a lack of skilled labour.
The FMB State of Trade Survey, which is released quarterly, is the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK. The latest survey for Q1 2022 found:
- 73% of small builders have delayed jobs because of a lack of materials.
- 55% of FMB members have delayed jobs due to a lack of skilled tradespeople.
- Industrial and commercial projects suffering with only a 4% reported increase in workload and members reporting no increase in enquiries.
- 45% of builders are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, up 2% on last quarter.
- 40% of FMB members are finding it difficult to hire bricklayers, down 1% on last quarter.
- Nearly all FMB members (98%) reported an increase in material costs in Q1 2022.
- 95% of respondents expect material costs to increase in Q2 2022.
- 83% of builders have put up their prices for work, up from 74% in Q4 2021.
Brian Berry, FMB Chief Executive, said: “The FMB’s State of Trade Survey highlights just how underprepared the building industry is for regulatory changes coming into force in June. Builders can’t be blamed for this situation given the poor communication and engagement coming from Government. The Government need to help address this issue by providing clear guidance to help builders understand what is expected of them.
“The survey also shows that availability of materials and skills shortages are not going away. These issues, coupled with crippling price rises, are causing real problems for the building industry. Delays and increases in prices will put off consumers, who are already reluctant to commission new work as their own costs spiral.”