During 2021, SAPCA highlighted the ongoing issue of volatility within the supply of products for the construction sector. Construction projects of all kind - not just those within the sports and play sector - have been affected by constant changes in the availability and cost of a range of products and materials essential to building projects.
Unfortunately, these same pressures remain and there is no alleviation in sight for the short to medium term as we enter 2022. The situation has been exacerbated during the year by the marketplace being "overheated" with exceptional demand, and the labour shortages relating to the pandemic and people needing to self-isolate.
It's important to reiterate that these issues are not limited to our specific sports and play construction sector. These are problems of a global and national scale.
The spikes in building material costs - and unforeseen delays in delivery times - are some of the unexpected consequences of the pandemic and will likely continue for some time. The volatility is caused by a "perfect storm" of various factors and issues. These include the increased costs and scarcity of raw materials - from oil to steel - and fluctuations in exchange rates.
In the UK, things have been made worse by the shortage of drivers due to Brexit complications, increased oil prices and competing demands for materials (particularly aggregates) as a result of HS2. There is now also the impact of higher inflation and, from April 2022, the withdrawal of the red diesel rebate.
This volatility, and the consequent impact on the timeframes and delivery costs of many projects, is likely to be something we must live with for a while to come. It is also worth pointing out that contractors may be exposed to added commercial pressures, as some of their existing contracts may not account for the current material price and delivery volatility.
While there may be little that our industry can do to influence any of these economy-wide factors, SAPCA members are certainly doing their best to mitigate any disruption. Contractors will always seek to secure the supply of products and materials for contracts that they have been awarded as early as possible. However, in many cases these will of course be supplied on a "first come, first served" basis.
SAPCA members are working hard to deliver projects with the minimum of delay, but where there are unavoidable delays, clients may need to be patient and to be flexible in scheduling the use of their completed facilities.
All those involved in the development of sports and play facilities may find it helpful to take this situation into consideration when planning and managing their projects for the coming year. For example, contractors and suppliers may be forced to review the periods of time that they are able to hold prices when giving quotations, and the timescales for project delivery may also be affected.
SAPCA will continue to monitor the situation closely. Please check the website for the latest news and information.