Why is there a shortage of cement? Firms call for halt on DIY projects amid building materials supply issues

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Cement, timber and and paint are proving difficult for tradespeople to get hold of as roadmap eases

Keen DIY enthusiasts have been told to put their projects on ice as building materials are running low globally and the UK - making it hard for smaller building companies to get hold of items such as cement, timber and paint.

Construction projects have surged since the UK eased its way out of the third national lockdown.

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But soaring shipping costs, Brexit, three national lockdowns and the weather are putting a strain on supplies of materials that are usually easy to come by.

House building supplies have been hit by soaring costs and lack of materials (Getty)House building supplies have been hit by soaring costs and lack of materials (Getty)
House building supplies have been hit by soaring costs and lack of materials (Getty)

So, why is there a building supply shortage - and why should DIY projects stop?

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Why is there a shortage in building materials?

Building companies are being hit hardest by a shortage in cement, wood, paint, steel and some electrical components.

It comes as no surprise as three national lockdowns have prompted a surge in domestic home makeover projects.

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While the warmer winter is reportedly affecting timber production in Scandinavia - colder climates in Texas are having an impact on the production of chemicals and plastics.

An increase in demand across the globe has made the UK import many of its raw materials - with lead times for orders lengthening while prices skyrocket.

The Office for National Statistics has projected a rise of 7-8% in material prices.

This could see the price of timber more than double during the course of the year.

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Should DIY projects stop?

The Federation of Master Builders said that some building firms could be forced to close while stocks are so low.

"Small, local builders are being hit hardest by material shortages and price rises," said chief executive Brian Berry talking to the BBC.

"We can't build our way to recovery from the pandemic if we don't have the materials."

The Construction Leadership Council blamed high levels of demand during the pandemic - with soaring home improvement projects - meaning small builders may have to delay work.

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It follows a similar trend to the first national lockdown when bags of plaster were being sold for up to £50 on eBay and Facebook - more than seven times the normal retail price.

Roland Glancy, managing director of design service Peek Home, told the BBC that people doing DIY should put their projects on the backburner.

He said: "The last thing you want is to knock through a wall and then struggle to get hold of a bag of plaster to complete your vision leaving you living in a building site, just when we should be enjoying our new freedoms," he said.

The Construction Products Association also told the BBC that the cost of shipping a 40ft container from Asia to Northern Europe has increased by almost £5,000 - from £1,061 in summer 2020 to £5,873 by May 2021.

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