Stark warning building trade at 'breaking point' over price hikes
- Credit: Antony Kelly
Builders have warned the industry is at "breaking point" amid rising costs and lack of materials.
Many say a lack of people going on holiday and spending cash on renovations, along with businesses investing in properties, is boosting work.
But tradesmen have major concerns over increasing costs of everyday materials which were readily available before the pandemic.
A mid-Norfolk based carpenter, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Small businesses such at ours are at breaking point. We are experiencing hideous price increases, which we have no choice but to pass onto customers and in turn customers are reluctant to continue with the work.
"Merchants are not willing to sell materials such as cement to small businesses such as ours as they are hoarding supplies for the big companies."
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Stephen Cutler, 50, from Sprowston, who has run his own building firm for 34 years, said: "It is the worst year for the building trade.
"We are struggling for deliveries and pricing has gone through the roof. There is a shortage of materials.
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"If it doesn't slow down there is going to be a problem."
He and other tradesmen were finding it hard to price jobs as material costs were increasing daily.
Mr Cutler added: "I'm doing what I can but with the prices being put up people are being put off having work."
The builder said there was a lack of delivery drivers and issues at factories where materials are processed due to staff having to isolate, which added to the problem.
Most costs for his projects have gone up between 20 and 30pc because of the materials needed.
Roofer Andrew Heath, 43, who lives in Dereham but works for Norwich-based RG Leverett Limited, said: "The costs of materials have quadrupled. You are waiting for everything. We cannot keep up with demand."
And David Willan, 36, partner of ND Willan Building Contractors in Cawston, said: "We cannot find materials which we could normally pick up from Norwich.
"The amount of new houses going up means the big boys get priority."
Keith Atthowe, director of Norwich-based GF Atthowe Builders, said his firm had not been hit as badly as other companies but said: "In the last six months the price of stainless steel has gone crazy."