16 Jun The Top Four Summer Construction Challenges
The entire economy took a massive hit last year, due to soaring costs, problems moving materials and labour, and the effects of the war in Ukraine. While some of the problems have eased slightly this year, the economy remains problematic, and this is certainly hitting the construction sector, including crucial piling projects.
So what are the top four summer construction challenges in 2023?
1. Problems with Acquiring Materials
The market for construction materials has been extremely volatile for more than a year now, with both demand and supply for various items, from bricks and concrete blocks to screws, fluctuating considerably. The problems in supply seem to be at least partly due to the difficulty in getting imports from Europe, following the effects of Brexit and the Covid pandemic.
These issues have affected prices, with some substantial rises in the 12 months to April 2023. For example, ready-mixed concrete has risen by 24.5% and insulating materials by 28.4%.
These problems have hit piling hard. Piling relies on high-quality steel, concrete and grout for effective results, and these have become more expensive and harder to access. This makes it essential to use a well-established piling contractor who has a strong relationship with suppliers and the expertise to make the most of the materials.
2. Construction Labour Shortages
The construction industry has for some time been facing a labour crisis. This is particularly true where skilled workers are concerned, such as bricklayers, carpenters and piling experts.
The problem comes from two sources. The UK has an aging population, with baby-boomers retiring and less-numerous age-groups coming up to take their place. Until recently, this shortage has been masked by recruiting skilled labour from the EU, but with this option no longer available, the problem has grown worse.
Of course, there is skilled labour still around. To have the best chance of accessing this high quality of work, it’s best to look for firms with a strong reputation, who are most likely able to attract the best workers.
3. High Borrowing Rates
In an attempt to control soaring inflation, the Bank of England has been pushing up the base lending rate, compelling lenders to follow suit. This has been most clearly seen in mortgage rates, whether for the purposes of buying property or paying for work done on it, but it’s also affected other types of loan that might be used to finance construction work.
We’ve particularly noticed the effects of this where piling work is concerned. Besides individuals putting off work such as extensions, developers are also postponing larger projects, due to higher mortgage rates reducing the demand for property.
4. Compliance in the Construction Sector
In recent years, the amount of regulations governing the construction industry has grown vastly. These range from health and safety for employees and the public to a duty to minimise nuisance for the neighbourhood.
The biggest increase has been in sustainability. This covers both sourcing and disposal of materials, as well as the design of new buildings to be energy efficient.
The good news is that these newer regulations shouldn’t be too much of a problem to construction companies who already have ethical principles built into their processes.
How to Minimise the Effects of These Challenges
While it’s inevitable that the challenges facing the construction industry will have some impact on your projects, there are ways of keeping disruption to a minimum. The most essential is to choose a company that not only has a good level of experience and expertise at the specific job, but also has a high reputation. A company like this will not only have strong relationships established with suppliers, but will also be able to attract skilled workers, in spite of the shortage.
At U&M, our various departments can offer all of this, especially our piling section. Give us a call to find out how we can help you with your project.