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5 ways to combat brick shortages

Housebuilding and construction generally has made a strong start in 2015 with orders and share prices moving in the right direction, but buyers and site managers are still having to deal with shortages of many heavyside materials; bricks being prominent amongst the products on extended delivery times.

So here are five possible ways out of the problem:

– If the four lorry loads of “Cottage Craft Collection” in the Farmyard Blend colour is going to take another 20 weeks to arrive, the best solution may be to identify a few similar looking brick types that are sitting in a yard somewhere; and ask the planning department if they would be willing to grant a small variation on the permission for the project.

– One of the enduring rules of supply and demand is that money talks, and it is quite possible that the type and quantity of bricks you require are available – as long as you’re prepared to pay a hefty premium. With labour rates on the way back up as well, though, it will probably require the shaving of margins somewhere else.

– It may not be applicable to every project – and especially the larger developments where quantities rise accordingly – but buyers could consider using reclaimed bricks. They are available by the million in salvage yards and from specialist factors across the country; so as long as the architect is willing to embrace the ‘rustic’ look that comes with most reclaims, you could get laying quickly.

– Where refurbishment work is concerned it is quite possible that contemporary manufacturers will no longer produce the brick type you need for an extension or to put right areas of damage and graffiti – but you’d be wrong to think a matching reclaim is your only answer. In fact the quickest and cheapest solution may well be to call on a cosmetic repair specialist whose operatives have the skill to rebuild, re-tint or completely replicate old bricks whose face has spalled or otherwise been spoiled.

– Surveys tend to show that we Brits remain in love with slated pitched roofs and brick elevations, but the combined shortage of the materials and the brickies to lay them may well be making the look unaffordable for the mass market. Which might explain why off-site fabrication or ‘Modern Methods of Construction’ are in the ascendancy again. Of course buildings don’t have to be clad in aluminium or cedar: in fact there are dozens of brick slip systems on the market as well as render products which can be applied to look like traditional brickwork.

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