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Plaster Shortages Could Cause Project Delays, as Builders Warn ‘Plan Ahead’

Plaster shortages latest
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ongoing plaster shortages in the UK could impact your next build project, and builders have warned that planning ahead is vital to ensure your project doesn’t fall behind schedule.

Against a backdrop of three national lockdowns within a year and uncertainty relating to Brexit, supplies of plaster and plasterboard have dwindled. 

So, if you're beginning a self build project, renovating a house, or performing DIY during lockdown, this is what you need to know.

Plaster Shortages - What’s Going on?

Plaster shortages can in part be traced back to factories being closed during the first lockdown in March 2020, with workers unable to meet social distancing rules.

Since then, supply chains have been stretched, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), which says its members continue to face rolling shortages.

Volumes of plaster and plasterboard are likely to be available but on much longer lead times than in early 2020, and deliveries could take longer than expected. 

However, Homebase and Travis Perkins are among the retailers to confirm that while demand is high, they have not experienced any stock or supply issues and do not expect any delays to customer deliveries. 

And Matt Pullen, managing director at British Gypsum, confirmed in January that the new lockdown would not impact its operations, and orders will continue to be filled. 

Plaster shortage

There has been a shortage of plasterboard since the first UK lockdown in March 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Plan Ahead

Planning is key if you're in the midst of, or planning a self build or renovation, which can help you adjust your timelines around when you know materials will be available.

"You need communication and understanding that a builder can’t just walk into a builders’ yard and get the materials off the shelves as they did in the past," says John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF).

"Ask them to talk to the merchant and maybe look at alternative materials if a product is in short supply."

Andy Stevens, builder and consultant with Eclipse Property Consultants and contributor to Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. adds: "Be proactive and make phone calls to find out lead times for your required materials, which can save you time in the long run."

But Stevens warns against buying cheaper products for your project, adding that consulting with your builder is pivotal to ensure you don't purchase unsuitable materials. 

Are There Shortages of Other Materials?

Supplies of timber and roof tiles are notably low, with construction material shortages growing amid three lockdowns within a year and the fallout from Brexit.

Prices have also risen on a number of products, with experts predicting further increases throughout 2021.