Material shortages still problematic for roofing industry

Material shortages, roofing,

Growth for the roofing industry during the first quarter of 2021 has been hampered by recruitment difficulties and continued material shortages and price rises, according to the Q1 State of the Roofing Industry survey produced by Glenigan for NFRC

Over half of roofing contractors surveyed reported a rise in workloads (51%) in the first three months of the year, with only 11% reporting a decline. This trend is set to continue, with a balance of 35% of firms reporting a rise in enquiries and a balance of 47% expecting growth over the next year.

Growing workloads meant that a net balance of 8% of firms grew their direct headcount on the previous quarter, and 17% took on more sub-contractors. However, over half (56%) of contractors reported recruitment difficulties.

Roles that were hardest to fill included roof slaters and tilers (39%), felters (33%), and specialist slaters (29%) and tilers (22%).

Material shortages also exacerbated over the quarter, with over two thirds (68%) reporting a deterioration.

Concrete roof tiles remained the top shortage area closely followed by timber battens, insulation, slate, and clay tiles. Shortages, as well as the rising prices of raw materials, has meant 89% of respondents reported price inflation.

This survey found that:

  • All sectors of the roofing industry saw growth in Q1 2021, with the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement and new build residential sectors showing the strongest growth;
  • Northern roofing contractors, those in London, and the Southern Counties and those who operate nationwide saw the sharpest rise in workloads. Scotland and Wales both saw falls in those reporting rising workloads, following a busy end to 2020;
  • Government spending on public sector construction projects is expected to drive positive workloads for roofing contractors over the next year, with 70% of contractors in this sector predicting growth over the next twelve months – far above any other sector;
  • Payment continues to be slow – whilst 625 of roofing firms have contractual payment terms of 30 days or less, only 42% were paid within that period, on average.

Upskill the next generation of roofers

NFRC chief executive, James Talman, said: “The roofing industry continued to perform well in the first quarter of this year, with roofers reporting that workloads, enquiries and employment were all up.

“The residential sector is doing particularly well, driven by the strong new build housing market, and homeowners continuing to spend their extra disposable income on upgrading and replacing their roofs

“However, there are simply not enough roofers to deliver the amount of demand we are seeing. One in every two roofing contractors are currently struggling to find skilled operatives. This is exacerbating the other challenges roofing contractors are also facing, such as finding materials and managing their cashflow.

“If the government want our industry to help put roofs on 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, retrofit 27 million properties and build brand new schools, hospitals and prisons, then it needs to work with us to help to train, develop and upskill the next generation of roofers.”


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