Times are interesting*

* this is a massive understatement

In the last 12 months we have been trying to manage the following / we have all lived through the following – businesses open, businesses shut, employees at work, employees at home, Brexit, global pandemic, wellbeing issues, stay at home orders, supply chain issues, demand issues, Suez canal issues, pricing issues, raw material shortages, containers floating in the North Sea, a booming housing market…

I could go on. We have seen a lifetime of economic and commercial challenges squeezed into 12 months. We have been mentally beaten up. Our resilience has been tested. But if you’re still in the game, you’re still winning.

Below is a graph of UK Sawmills Timber Price Index 2016 to 2021. (thank you to the most wonderful Professor Noble Francis for this)

The figures are beyond crazy, beyond planning, beyond contingency. In some cases, beyond managing.

The cost of TR26 (truss timbers) has risen by circa 150% over the last 12 months.

Read that again. 150%. That’s your petrol going up to £3 a litre. Your average house price £575k.

Like all raw materials they go up and they go down. But the rise has been meteoric. Never seen before, that consequence of the most perfect of perfect storms. Supply, demand, lack of COVID based recovery planning, a surprising normalising of the housing market, it has all been a factor.

Price rises have had a bearing on all housing market products, I Beams (with OSB and Whitewood challenges), Whitewood (as discussed), OSB inflation rates as well as supply accelerating upwards, CLS, Bricks, Concrete, doors (lead times heading further and further out), the list is endless.

Into the cauldron add the continued government housing incentives. Sites, naturally, trying to complete records build numbers in record times. I absolutely understand housebuilders wanting to protect margins (share price importance), concern about lead times (some have trebled and quadrupled or even worse are on allocation), calling off products to ‘get them in’ before a price rise. Some of our partners have double completion rates, driven by the above as well, as demand, as the market continues to be led by incentive and demand.

All of the supply chain are in the same boat. We’re all trying to navigate through the same storm. Speaking to friends around the timber, and wider constriction, sphere we are all juggling supply and demand whist keeping to our lead times where we can. But we’re juggling. We’re juggling the last 12 months issues. It doesn’t matter what end of the supply chain, we are all in it.

From the forester to the estate agent, we are all influenced by the supply chain. We are all helped, we are all hindered. It impacts us daily.

But, for your sanity, you can only control the controllable. It’s easy to lose sight of that. We must balance challenges with openness and transparency. We must balance stress with recognition and reward. We must balance the todays climate with the events of the last 12 months.

We must balance communication. The human brain is mostly driven by kindness, the want to hold out a hand to help, or to place an arm round to support. In a 12 month period where everyone has been touched by various life influencing events we must continue to engage, help, support and empathise. We must help each other. Together, with good solid partnerships, we will achieve.

There is a lot to be said for united we stand, divided we fall.

As we accelerate into quarter 2 remember to be open, be transparent and be kind. Together we can all achieve brilliance. Things will continue to be trying, continue to be tense and continue to be challenging.

As for the housing market, housebuilding is the main stay of the UK economy. We shall continue to be good pioneers of what is right and how to act, behave and lead.

Have a very Happy Easter, enjoy the brief respite. You have earned it.

If you have a development project you’d like to talk to our timber frame team about, email sales@rmuk.co.uk or call us on 01933 279597.