- Low mortgage rates and extra savings accelerate home improvements
- Unprecedented demand has exacerbated supply and traders shortage
- Competition for builders and materials leads to sharpest price increases since the late 1990s
Emma Jones was hoping to move into her newly renovated home in good time for the birth of her baby.
But his family’s renovation project is one of thousands hit by a shortage of building supplies and merchants across the country.
As a result, 33-year-old Emma and 38-year-old partner Kayvan Khanmoradi-Gargary had to find an additional £70,000 and welcome their baby Marcus into the world while on Airbnb.
Even now, four months after the completion of the project, the families are still living at a construction site.
Emma Jones and partner Kayvan Khanmoradi-Gargary, 38, have to find an additional £70,000 and welcome their baby Marcus into the world while on Airbnb.
The pandemic, coupled with record low mortgage interest rates and increased home savings, led to a boom in home improvements and renovations.
But unprecedented demand for expansion, scaffolding conversion and landscape gardening has exacerbated the shortage of building supplies and traders in the Suez Canal due to the pandemic, Brexit and shipping chaos.
Last week, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said competition for builders and materials has led to the sharpest price increase since the 1990s.
Emma and Kayvan’s renovation of their new four-bedroom bungalow in Frodsham, Cheshire, had failed due to a shortage of timber, a lack of merchants and a lack of delivery drivers to transport goods.
This meant they were not able to move forward by the time they agreed to sell their current property at the end of June – forcing them to move into temporary housing for two and a half months at a further price of £7,500.
Emma, who runs mortgage advisory firm Elder Rose, says she booked her builder in July last year, but the earliest start date was February.
She was told that the renovation of her bungalow, which included a loft conversion to add additional bedrooms, would be finished in May.
But the lack of material and labor added months to the time.
She says: ‘The doors we ordered got stuck in the Suez Canal, then the lack of lorry drivers meant we had trouble getting them to us.
‘Obtaining the MDF wood loft board was a real problem for our joiner and the lack of most of the materials we needed meant almost double the price for all.
‘We are now waiting for gravel resin for our back garden, but there is a severe shortage and the suppliers have run out.’
Sub-contractors who delayed other jobs have also put the couple’s plans on hold. Emma, engineers Kayvan and Marcus finally moved into their half-timbered home this month, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Overall, the devastation raised the cost of the couple’s home makeover from £100,000 to £170,000. Emma says, ‘It’s been terrible. ‘This project has left a sour taste in my mouth.’
Supply Crisis: High demand for expansion and scaffold conversion has exacerbated the shortage of building supplies and traders due to the pandemic, Brexit and shipping chaos.
Websites specializing in introducing homeowners to merchants say home improvements are ‘now more popular than ever’.
Trades portal Rated People says 52 per cent more jobs have been posted this year as compared to 2019.
Mybuilder.com is receiving over 150,000 job requests from households a month, a rate ‘significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels’.
As a result of the demand, experts say busy builders are demanding fees of up to £2,000 to reserve their services six months in advance.
Meanwhile, mortgage broker Mojo Mortgage says there has been a 174 per cent increase in home improvement applications for home improvements so far this year, compared to 2019.
And with sub-1 percent mortgage rates available to some homeowners, raising an additional £50,000 over a 25-year period can cost as little as £188 per month.
Adrienne Minster, chief executive of Rated People, says: ‘We are seeing a continued desire for homeowners to redecorate their spaces.
‘The home improvement boom has been great for aspiring businessmen who want to grow their business, but have contributed to a lack of materials.’
Rising improvement costs have prompted some homeowners to withdraw plans or seek financial assistance.
Jamie Megson, director of Avail Mortgage Brokers, says: ‘Landlords who don’t have extra funds are turning to family members for help or going back to banks. Or they are trying different builders and suppliers, cheaper material or design options and even doing some of the work themselves.’
He said a family saw his bid for a one-storey extension while arranging a resale and the garage conversion grew from £50,000 to £70,000 in just two months.
Guy Maycock, director of London-based buying agent Prime Purchase, says skilled merchants and an “extraordinary shortfall” in supplies are driving up 20 per cent of their customers’ design and construction costs.
Families who do not need to urgently repair their homes are being advised to wait until the construction industry restores its dwindling stock of materials and the home improvement boom has cooled.
Matt Maddox, founder of consumer advice service DevelopSafe, says: ‘Because there is so much demand from builders that they are now in a very strong position what may seem like unreasonable demands on price or the terms and conditions of the contract.
‘There is some consumer protection against overly unfair terms, but raising their prices is a no-go. If you can wait then wait, the situation will not last forever.’
Brian Berry, chief executive of the trade body Federation of Master Builders, says: ‘More than half of small, local builders cannot find skilled traders and 98 percent have seen price hikes due to a drop in material prices…