LACK OF BRICKS IN THE UK
People like change especially when it comes to their houses and that is why most people will renovate, buy or build new homes or expand their premises. People in Britain are no different and this building what keeps the construction going. However the lack of bricks in the UK injured the industry and most are wondering when things will look up but gradually, the industry is rising back to its feet.
The shortage was attributed to the house prices downturn that took a long time after the worldwide financial crisis experienced in 2007/2008 and it caused a drop in house building to levels only witnessed in the 1920s. This recession made people cut back of the house building and in turn lowered the demand of bricks. The manufactures of the bricks shut their companies down since they were making loses. Hanson a company that is amongst the highest producers of bricks closed five plants and the workforce was also slashed to a half and others like Wienerberger and Ibstock followed soon.
Sulfur dioxide is of course produced when making bricks and the setting of EU limits that were more stringent led to the closure of many kilns which is making the brick shortage situation dire. The other factor that led many manufacturers to close their doors was the ever-increasing cost of energy. At the end of the day, they had little or no profits after paying their workers and overheads and could not keep up with production as the pressure was immense.
The global market however stabilized and people were ready to start building again and the problem was that production was still low given that many producers were still cutting back their production. Going back to maximum brick production will take a while since producers have to rehire people, move funds to buy materials and in some cases, some people have to ask banks to lend them funds to allow high production. The problem is that banks are also hesitant in giving the funds and more so to small builders but individuals got credit easily and this further strained the industry as more people had resources to build.
The lack of bricks led to a hike in the cost of bricks by about 10% and it has also had tons of bricks imported to try and offset the deficit but all this makes building a costly venture. Since about 2/3 of all houses in the country are built by large companies, small builders who account for a third are suffering as brick producers prefer to sell their bricks to large companies fast as they ensure the product moves faster.
The brick industry is not like any other where owners can easily turn production on and off and since the industry in Britain has recovered furiously, builders and home/landowners will have to be patient as many manufactured are giving lead times of months and their order books for the year are filled up.
Hiring is also difficult for the companies as many employees moved and the pool has few who are skilled enough. Things are however looking up as this year only, there has been a 39% increase in production and the number is expected to continually rise.