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New warning from TRA on softwood shortages and cost increases this year

4th May 2021
TRA briefing note on softwood supply

A new briefing note for TRA members and their customers sets out the likely picture on softwood shortages and cost increases for 2021, and warns that “these increases are significant and look set to continue at unprecedented levels throughout Q2 and Q3 of 2021.”

Many trussed rafter manufacturers and others in the timber engineering sector have been struggling throughout the pandemic to obtain the size and specifications of structural wood they need. These shortages have meant unpredictable stock allocations, long lead times and upward pressure on prices.

“Unfortunately, it is now becoming clear that this is no short-term supply hiccup”, says Nick Boulton, chief executive of the TRA.

The TRA briefing note sets out the reasons behind these current problems. It also explains the broader context, including the recent joint statement from the Construction Products Association (CPA) and Builders Merchants Federation on similar shortages of other building products.

Just today [4 May], the CPA chief executive, Peter Caplehorn, told Building magazine that the problem had “escalated” and said the delays could soon affect the ability of larger firms to complete projects on time. Shortages are being recorded for multiple products, from timber and steel to plastics, roofing tiles, glazing products and insulation. The Federation of Master Builders also confirmed today that “almost every small construction business has reported a surge in materials costs driven by the strongest workload increase in a decade.”

The TRA briefing note is free to download and to share with customers and staff. Updates will be published via this website.

In the meantime, the TRA is advising on the following actions:

  • Talk to customers and make them aware of the situation. Explain the factors which really do mean that, as the cliché goes, “we’re all in this together”.
  •  Work closely together to improve forward planning and security of supply. Collaboration in the supply chain is the only effective way to prioritise supplies, reduce unexpected shortages, balance supply and demand better, and save costs.
  • Support initiatives such as Grown in Britain which encourages and supports active and sustainable management of our own forests and woodlands, reducing our dependency on imports, especially for other softwood uses.
  • Help us to emphasise to the Irish government that the licence issue restricting log supply needs to be solved quickly, as it is making the supply situation in the construction sector much worse and adding to the material price inflation in the housing sector.
  • Home builders and contractors should prioritise suppliers who adhere to the highest quality standards. This means less waste, better value gained from engineered timber products, and reduced risk of costly mistakes. Look for the TRA badge from any supplier of trussed rafters and other structural roofing products.

Download the briefing note here.

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