Plastic Surgeon’s National Account Manager for the housing sector, Ian Finney, talks about the factors affecting the market.
Anyone who follows the financial pages will know that the UK’s housebuilders have, in the main, been restored to health, with this summer’s half year figures showing some remarkable levels of increased profit. The turnaround though has been achieved as expensive land purchases have worked their way through the system, as well as by strictly controlling their other operating costs while volumes have slowly recovered.
Beyond the balance sheets, however, most managers – right up to board level – would still describe trading conditions as challenging. Many manufacturers in the construction industry might say the problems are partly of their own making.
Ian Finney is responsible for liaising with the country’s top developers on a day to day basis, ensuring Plastic Surgeon fulfils their needs in terms of snagging repairs and other work across the regions.
He comments: “There is undoubtedly recovery in the sector, and I think overall it would be correct to describe the mood as cautiously optimistic. Initiatives such as the Government’s “Help to Buy” have eased the lending crisis, but some people in politics and the markets are warning about the possibility of a new price bubble brewing. What nobody argues about, though, is the fact there remains a very high level of housing demand.”
Five years of recession have seen manufacturers across the industry – from glass producers to brick-makers – cut back on capacity, moth-balling production lines. Also, despite the development of numerous off-site or prefabricated building systems, the sites around the country still concentrate on traditional construction techniques.
Ian Finney continues saying: “Manufacturers don’t have the stockpiles of basic materials that they used to, and many site managers I speak to are fighting for deliveries of bricks or roof tiles. Few sites, furthermore, are using MMC so they are also affected by a basic lack of labour or skills shortage because the industry just hasn’t been training enough workers.
“This therefore is an area where Plastic Surgeon can help housebuilders because, not only is it far more cost effective to use one of our Finishers to carry out a wide variety of snagging repairs across properties due to be handed over, but it also means tradespeople are not being dragged away from their main work to tackle tasks they are often not really equipped for.”