Andrew McFarlane, a consultant working for the Glasgow Office of the DM Hall Chartered Surveyors as well as a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has expressed his concern over the condition of the construction industry and how this could impact on developments in the future.
With the lull in recent history of residential property building and the increase in the population of the UK there is a significant demand for houses. The government consistently reiterates pledges and promises to build more houses to meet the demand, however a range of other factors could put these promises out of reach. The Scottish Government alone has set a target of building 50,000 new and affordable homes over the course of the next few years in order to cut down on the housing deficit.
There have also been large sums of money put aside in order to increase the rate of building works as well as to entice councils, housing associations and construction companies to deliver more and more accommodation in this concerning and tough economic climate. The ambitions to combat the lack of affordable housing are commendable however there are a number of challenges that could stop this from happening such as the rising cost of building materials and the deficit of skilled workers across all trades in the construction industry.
There is a skills shortage in the construction sector and this is having a knock on effect on a range of key on-site trades with a range of main contractors saying at the beginning of 2017 there has been the highest shortage of carpenters and plumbers in nine years. The Federation of Master Builders has also expressed concerns in regards to the shortage of labourers, with one in eight originating from the outside of the UK, and concerns over migration details with Brexit looming.
There has also been an increase in the cost of vital building materials. A number of companies are looking for alternative sources of materials, however, for essential products there has been a steep increase in costs that slash margins and make developments less economically viable. It is thought that some materials have seen price increases of up to 35% which can jeopardise margin planning.