Construction News

Sun November 28 2021

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Roofing contractor shortages in the spotlight

5 Nov Roofing contractors are facing a tide of shortages, from skills to materials, and not all are managing to pass on their rising costs to their clients.

Latest quarterly survey of members of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) found that 77% of roofing and cladding contractors had difficulties recruiting suitable labour in the third quarter of 2021. This was up from 56% six months ago.

Coupled with this, 92% have seen the cost of their materials rise but only 70% have increased their tender prices.

Slaters and tilers were the roles in most demand by contractors, according to the NFRC State of the Roofing Industry Survey, but a number of flat roofing roles, such as in the built-up flat roofing and single ply discipline, were also reported as being difficult to find. One in 10 NFRC members reported difficulties recruiting cladders, which could have an impact on the government's £5bn cladding remediation scheme, the federation said.

The Q3 State of the Roofing Industry survey, conducted by Glenigan on behalf of the NFRC, also found that:

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  • A net balance of 40% of roofing contractors reported growing workloads, down from 54% in the previous quarter.
  • A balance of 28% of members reported higher enquiries.
  • The north of England and Scotland saw the highest levels of growth, with Wales being the only part of the UK that saw workloads and enquiries fall on the previous quarter.
  • 77% of roofing firms reported a deterioration of material availability over the quarter, with 31% reporting shortages of 'all materials'.
  • Ahead of COP26, only 48% of roofing contractors were developing or considering developing a net-zero strategy.

Commenting on the findings, NFRC's head of policy, Philip Campbell, said: "The headlines recently have been focused, rightly, on HGV driver shortages, but the next ticking skills time bomb is construction skill shortages, particularly in roofing. We have seen skill shortages become a big concern for roofing contractors throughout this year, and our most recent survey found that three-quarters of our members are now having recruitment difficulties on all sorts of roles from roof slaters and tilers to cladders.”

He added: "More generally, whilst it was encouraging to see the roofing and cladding industry grow again this quarter, we saw the rate of growth slow, particularly in the domestic, repair, maintenance, and improvement sector, which could be the result of ongoing material and skill shortages. Roofers continue to remain optimistic for the future, however."

Glenigan economics director Allan Wilén said: "Roofing contractors' workload continued to recover strongly during the third quarter, and contractors anticipate a broadening in growth over the next 12 months. The rise in workload has been accompanied by widespread disruption to material availability and higher material costs, pressures that are now feeding through as a rise in contractors' tender prices."

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