Hot tub sales having knock-on effect for building projects

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hot tub polymer materials

The rise in hot tub sales over lockdown is having a knock-on effect for the building trade, a leading contractor and property developer has warned.

Construction sites across the UK are struggling to get supplies of polymer materials such as plastics used for flooring, windows, pipes, membranes, seals and insulation.

And according to Anderson, which is managing dozens of projects across the East of England, the reason is that they are also the main component for garden spas.

Jake Pannell, a buyer in Anderson’s procurement team, said: “Covid-19 has created pockets of demand for polymers, for instance in personal protective equipment such as gloves and hospital gowns but also, bizarrely, for the production of hot tubs.”

Sales of hot tubs rose by 1,000% in April, with manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand.

Meanwhile, as construction sites slowed down, demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used in pipes, cladding, windows, and doors showed a 19% decline.

Jake Pannell, Anderson procurement team
Jake Pannell, Anderson procurement team

Mr Pannell said: “The shutdowns and stay-at-home orders walloped markets like automotive and construction, forcing chemical plants dedicated to those markets to throttle back.

“On the other hand, companies that make resins for medical devices or consumer goods experienced brisk demand.

“The result has been that as construction sites have started to get back to normal, there isn’t enough of certain products that we need.”

Anderson has also seen a shortage in roof c-clips, used for holding tiles in place.

“The company that supplies these in the UK cannot make social distancing work for them in their factory space, so they have halted all production,” Mr Pannell said. “This has meant we have had to look to France to import the product and this is holding us up.

“It’s a really tiny element of the build but a necessary one.”

On top of this, there is presently little-to-no UK manufacture of plasterboard and a national shortage of bricks, a situation not been helped by the fact that lead times were already high prior to the crisis.

Other areas of concern for many in the construction sector include the availability of internal doors and steel lintels – essential for the completion of most jobs. Concrete supplies and bagged cement have also been impacted.

Mr Pannell added: “In the industry there’s a general feeling that we remain in this together.

“We are all clearly focused on supply matching demand and housebuilders, manufacturers and merchants are all talking about the issue of product availability.

“It’s the kind of collaboration we need to see if we are to continuing with the projects our country so desperately needs to complete in order to address the ongoing housing crisis.”

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