In May, we highlighted the issue of volatility within the supply of products for the construction sector. Since then, construction projects of all kind – not just those within the sport and play sector – have been affected by constant changes in the availability and cost of a range of products and materials essential to building projects.
Unfortunately, these same pressures very much remain and there is no immediate alleviation in sight. In fact, the situation is, if anything, being exacerbated in two ways – by the marketplace being “overheated” with exceptional demand (including the summer holidays and the DIY market), and the labour shortages relating to the “pingdemic” and people being told to self-isolate.
It’s important to reiterate that, just like earlier in the year, these issues are not limited to our specific sports and play construction sector. These are problems of a global and national scale.
The spikes in building material costs – and unforeseen delays in delivery times – are some of the unexpected consequences of the pandemic and will likely continue for some time. The volatility is caused by a “perfect storm” of various factors and issues. These include the increased costs and scarcity of raw materials – from oil to steel – and fluctuations in exchange rates.
In the UK, things have been made worse by the lack of drivers due to Brexit complications (freight and transport companies estimate that 15,000 European truck drivers left the UK in the last year), increased oil prices and competing demands for materials (particularly aggregates) as a result of HS2.
This volatility is likely to be something we must live with for a while to come – and it could have a significant impact on the timeframes and delivery costs of many projects. It is worth pointing out that contractors could be exposed to commercial pressure, as some of their contracts do not account for the current material price and delivery volatility.
While there may be little that our industry can do to influence any of these economy-wide factors, SAPCA members will certainly do their best to mitigate any disruption. Contractors will always seek to secure the supply of products and materials for contracts that they have been awarded as early as possible. However, in many cases these will of course be supplied on a “first come, first served” basis.
SAPCA members are working hard to deliver projects with the minimum of delay, but where there are unavoidable delays, clients may need to be patient and to be flexible in scheduling the use of their completed facilities.
All those involved in the development of sports and play facilities may find it helpful to take this situation into consideration when planning and managing their projects this year. For example, contractors and suppliers may be forced to review the periods of time that they are able to hold prices when giving quotations, and the timescales for project delivery may also be affected.
SAPCA will continue to monitor the situation closely. Please check our website for the latest news and information.