'We are not taking the mickey' - Ipswich builders on price surges

File photo dated 28/02/12 of a construction site. A growing shortage of building workers, including

Prices have jumped over the last year. - Credit: PA

"Ballistic" prices are to blame for home extensions and new builds becoming more expensive for homeowners, Ipswich construction firms have claimed. 

Wood, copper and other materials saw prices at the end of 2020 soar a quarter leaving building firms either out of pocket or having to pass on the cost to customers. 

Owner of JB Gibson and Son, John Gibson, said: "Price changes happen in the next minute and customers just don't get what is advertised and you have to pass the cost on. 

"We are not taking the mickey but customers think we are. 

"Some tend to discontinue the work halfway through or stop the building in the beginning.

"I've rung my customers and told them it's gone up but I am only increasing my prices by 12% and they said it's fine. 

"It's cutting into my profit."

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One company owner hit hard has been Awande Luthuli, who has had customers furious with him over a change to prices last minute. 

Mr Luthuli estimates he has faced increased costs several times throughout 2021. 

"It's just awkward coming back and asking for more money last minute when you've given an estimation of costs," he said. 

Carpenter, Awande Luthuli is encouraging more people from the BAME community to join the industry.

Carpenter, Awande Luthuli is encouraging more people from the BAME community to join the industry. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Brexit also puts further pressure as all goods coming from the EU need a full customs declaration, director of Ipswich-based SEH French, Simon Girling, has said. 

It’s due to the end of transitional measures, on January 1, which allowed customs declarations to be delayed by 175 days.  

Mr Girling added: "This could lead to delays in the delivery of a small amount of materials if preparations are not made. 

Simon Girling and Paul Rodwell, SEH French

Simon Girling and Paul Rodwell, SEH French - Credit: SEH French

“There’s been issues with the supply chain, it’s still hard to find good-quality people in the industry and obviously there’s been a vast materials shortage."

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) estimates building work soared by 24.5% in October 2021, compared to the same period in 2022, and costs of repair and maintenance increased by 26.2%.

“With the cost situation, I’ve never seen anything like it in my 30 years in construction," Mr Girling added. "The volatile state of the industry and material supply is unprecedented."

“I don’t think it [shortages] will be as volatile in 2022 compared to 2021, as I’d like to think people have now adapted to the new normal of how they work and the costs of how they work. I think there will be smaller increment increases in costs."

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