Money & Finance

Australian Construction Material Supply Causing Delays for Home Builders

As global construction booms, there has been a considerable amount of discussion recently regarding the rising cost of construction materials alongside resulting construction time delays. 

In the endeavour of transparency, we are going to explain what is going on in the world at the moment and how this is affecting home builds across Australia.

Is there a shortage of construction materials?

There is a shortage of a number of popular construction materials in Australia at the moment – including timber, kitchen materials, cement, some electrical components, steel, and paints. 

Across the globe there is currently a major timber shortage that is affecting many different types of timber products. This affects the supply of frames, trusses, hardware, and fit out materials including doors, jambs, and architraves for construction. This is also affecting the cabinet industry, making kitchen fit outs especially difficult at the current time. 

Building material delays

MaterialPre-pandemic wait timePandemic wait time
Mesh and pods2 weeks6 weeks
Frame and trusses4 weeks16 weeks
Windows4 weeks8 weeks
Bricks2 weeks4 weeks
Laminated veneer lumber1.5 weeks16 weeks

Source: Master Builders Association of Victoria

These supply issues alongside the spike in industry demand could affect the supply of any number of materials in the future and is not expected to ease imminently. 

Why is there a shortage of building materials?

The current shortage in building materials has been caused by three main factors, including COVID-19 stimulus packages resulting in unprecedented spikes in demand, national bushfires significantly impacting the supply of timber, and a booming USA building sector absorbing many international construction materials. 

Essentially Australia was not the only country to use the construction industry as a centrepiece for economic recovery during the pandemic, meaning international supply chains are also being stretched. Even just considering the supply strain placed by the Australian bushfires, which destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of softwood plantation that would have been supplying the construction industry for the next 12 months. 

This means raw timber is in particularly short supply, and builders are no longer being informed of an estimated delivery date, due to their suppliers being unable to estimate when stock will arrive. 

Some home builders are opting for using steel in frames instead of timber to try and alleviate delays, though this has caused a flow-on effect creating increases in demand and cost for all other key building materials – especially steel. 

As a society, many have taken the pandemic as an opportunity to renovate or build their dream home, since many restrictions and lockdowns have made people realise how much they value their living space. On top of this, due to international (and state) border closures, many families are spending the money they would have previously spent on holidays on their homes instead. 

Housing Industry Australia chief economist Tim Reardon said a record 146,000 new detached homes are set to be built in 2021, which is a 20% increase from last years figures. This has also been influenced by the Australian government’s Home Builder scheme, low-interest rates, and population shifts to regional areas. 

Are shortages of building materials causing building delays?

These shortages of building materials are causing building delays, with many builders not even being supplied estimates for when they will receive materials from their stockists. Without the raw timber to build the frame and finish pouring the slab, the next stage of construction is unable to commence. 

Material shortages are currently being cited as the largest barrier to work, ahead of labour availability, planning problems, and land availability. 

Are builders in high demand? 

Due to increases in demand and other consequences of COVID-19, material shortages are also complemented by labour shortages – intensifying construction delays further. Ongoing natural disaster insurance repair work is continuing to monopolise many trade contractors. 

Specifically, there has been a major labour issue across New South Wales regarding roof tilers. This has been caused by the spike in demand alongside a lot of NSW roof tilers going to Queensland to work on roof replacements caused by large hailstorms. This issue is not expected to be resolved any time soon, meaning it is worth considering iron roof options for any upcoming home builds. 

How this is impacting G.J. Gardner home builds

Regardless of the size of the building firm, no one is immune to these issues. That is why at G.J. Gardner Homes we have been working to minimise the impact of these issues on our valued clients. Some ways we are ameliorating construction delays is through broadening our trade base and extending the contract build periods for all our customers. 
Each state and location in Australia are being affected slightly differently, which is why you will be working closely with your local builder. If you have any questions about how this may affect your home build or if you wish to enquire, please do not hesitate to contact us today.