How the trade and building materials shortage can impact your home build

Without a doubt, it sure is an interesting time in the housing and property market right now. Not only are prices for existing homes increasing dramatically but the building industry Australia wide is currently in the grips of a trade and building materials shortage. 

Naturally, if you’re looking to build a house or renovate your home right now it can be a confusing and worrying time. but the more you know the better you can prepare and the easier it is to make more informed decisions. 

So let’s talk about the trade and building materials shortage and the cost to build a house in Perth.

building materials shortage

What is really going on? 

Since covid began the construction industry Australia wide has experienced pressure cooker conditions that are impacting home builds. Not only are trades hard to secure but building materials are becoming even scarcer and are rising in costs significantly. 

Reports from industry experts indicate that there has been a 40 per cent overall increase in the cost of building materials on average since 2019. While some materials have only increased marginally others, such as roof timber has increased up to 85 per cent

Contributing to the cost increase is the supply issue affecting many products and materials. Builders can be waiting months to get their hands on roof trusses and engineered wood products such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL). 

And if that’s not enough to deal with. Builders are also faced with an increasing trade shortage. The reality is, trades right now can pick and choose their projects and some will even jump ship at the last minute for better offers.

Now, a skills shortage is not a new issue to the construction industry. It’s been brewing for a while now, but with borders locking down and skilled workers moving to other states for better pay and more lucrative work, the situation has only become more challenging. 

We definitely don’t want to paint a doom and gloom picture and create a whole ‘the sky is falling’ situation. But, no trades, no materials and skyrocketing prices is, unfortunately, the reality of the construction industry right now. 

trade and building materials shortage

How does a building materials shortage impact the cost to build a house? 

Due to the nature of construction, many projects are forecast months or even years in advance. If you sign up for a house and land package, it can take a while for your project construction to get underway. First, you have to finalise your plan, site the house on the block, and wait as all your project details are processed through your local council. You may even have to wait for the land to be titled ready for your home to be built. 

So, imagine… While you are working with your builder to finalise your plans and project details, the prices of products and materials are rising rapidly and are even becoming hard to source. Very quickly a 9-month project, for example, could all of a sudden become a 2-year timeline. 

And, if, throughout your project, the subcontractors and trades who have quoted your project are no longer available, then the timeline can blow out again. All the while, the material costs are still rising. 

Unfortunately, this is going to impact the cost to build or renovate a home and prices change across all areas of the build.  

How much will they change? This can be hard to determine. All projects are different. To get accurate pricing and a clear understanding of the cost to build your home, you need to have conversations with your builder, design professional and any other consultant working on your project.  

trade shortage Australia

What are builders doing to manage the building materials shortage? 

As an established builder, this is what we are doing to manage and minimise the impact of both the trade and building materials shortage as best we can. 

1. We are working closely with all parties. Our suppliers, our subcontractors and our clients. We are keeping in regular contact and keeping communication lines open. The more we know, the better we can prepare and when we are working together, it makes the challenges somewhat easier to navigate. After all, this situation is not unique to any one supplier or builder or homeowner. Everyone is feeling the effects across the board. 

2. We are planning ahead. We do this naturally as a business, but we are planning far further ahead than we have in the past. We are consistently checking both material availability and prices, and reviewing all projects, both underway and coming up, to make sure there are minimal delays. 

3. We are working on one new home build at a time.  We are committed to quality not quantity. To avoid delays and keep our projects on track, we only take on one new home build at a time. This way, we can be on site everyday, remain on top of the schedule and remain focused on creating the best outcome for each and every client. 

4. We are stocking up. Wherever possible we are buying materials for our current project and storing them in a dry, secure location ready for when they are needed. This in itself is a bit of a juggling act as we are mindful to only store what we will use in the foreseeable future so there is material still available for other builders and projects. 

5. We are creating contingency plans. Where possible we will create contingency plans as a workaround to complete a project. This means working closely with consultants and trades to find solutions to the problem. And working closely with our clients to discuss alternate materials, products and design styles to complete a project. 

While the decision will always be yours as the homeowner, the choice may ultimately be to select different materials or course of action with your project. Or delay the project while you wait for the option you want to become available. 

What should homeowners do to minimise the impact of the building materials shortage?

While your builder will be navigating the ever-changing conditions as best they can, there are a few things you, as the homeowner can do to help minimise the impact on your project and house costs.

1. Be aware, not alarmed. As they say, knowledge is power, and the more you know the more informed your decision making can be. Don’t just take the word of the media, as this can often be overly dramatic. Go directly to the source, your builder and construction professionals for information. They can provide you with current information along with advice on how to navigate the conditions. 

2. Allow flexibility. Your builder will be doing everything in their power to keep your project on track. But there may be times when delays are unavoidable. If you allow for greater flexibility in relation to time and choices, this can minimise the impact. Extra flexibility will help your stress levels as well. 

3. Create your own contingency plan. Unfortunately, any hiccups with your home build project are going to have a knock-on effect that will trickle down and impact other areas of your life. You may find yourself having to stay in your current accommodation longer or you may need to think about ways to increase your financial buffer. 

Creating your own contingency plan will give you and your family a little breathing room should you need it. 

building materials shortage cost to build

Is now a good time to build a house or should I wait? 

We are not going to lie. The building industry is facing some challenging conditions. But as tough as it might be, impossible it is not. Suppliers are still sourcing and securing stock. Builders are still out there building. Homeowners are still planning and moving ahead with their home builds. 

We can’t tell you if now is the best time to build or if you should wait. Everyone’s circumstances and outlooks are different. No one can forecast if the building materials shortage is going to continue, or if prices are going to go up even further. 

The only advice we can give you is… The best time to build a house is when you are ready. There will always be circumstances and conditions that you need to allow for and factor in. We will simply work with those conditions. 

What we can also tell you is that Blue Strike Constructions are proactive builders and will always be proactive builders. We may not sugar coat our information, but we are committed to getting the best outcome for you and your home build. 

If you have questions about the building materials shortage, the current costs to build a house or any other building-related question, give us a call and we can go over the details.