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Is There Really a Brick Shortage?

Is There Really a Brick Shortage?

21st August 2014

In this time of recovery for the housing sector, many contractors are finding it increasingly difficult to source essential building materials from suppliers. The increase in demand for bricks appears to have led to a nationwide shortage in this staple building material.

In a recent article on their website, the RICS claim that order periods are getting longer resulting in a short term problem for contractors. They also claim that some of the larger contractors and house building companies have used buying power to secure their supply, which will exacerbate the problem for others.

Some large brick manufacturers have been able to open up old production lines to increase production capacity and many have continued production during the winter in an attempt to meet the rising demand.

The Brick Development Association (BDA) sees no reason why brick factories will not be able to cope with increased production. They believe that contractors are now used to large stocks being immediately available as they were during the recession. The advice from the BDA is that contractors and building firms should return to planning their deliveries and placing orders well in advance to prevent any delays to their scheduled works.

This view is reinforced by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose statistics on brick production, deliveries and stocks show that over the past year production has risen 17%. They also report that deliveries have been higher than production for most of this period resulting in a fall in stocks of 25%. Currently stocks represent only two months of demand compared to three months one year ago and seven months at the height of the recession.

One thing that is not in doubt is that the increased demand for bricks has affected prices for this crucial component. A 6% to 8% price increase in June 2014 has been recorded from a major brick manufacturer and the Producer Price Index for bricks (produced by BIS) shows an increase in manufacturer prices of8.5% in the year to June 2014.