Self-build costs increase

Material prices alone, excluding windows and doors, are adding at least €12k to €17k to a direct labour self-build and about €30k to a contractor led build.

A rise in shipping container costs, Brexit paperwork holding up shipment at ports, and a worldwide materials shortage have contributed to significant material prices increases that are hitting self-builders across NI and ROI, Padraic Rogers of told Selfbuild+ members in an exclusive Facebook Live event in June.

Padraic said pretty much every type of material they stock has been hit by price increases, apart from locally quarried products such as cement, blocks and aggregates.

The issue, he told Selfbuild+ members, is that builder’s merchants are selling their stock without replenishing it quickly enough.

“We used to get up to seven deliveries a month of insulation but now only get three,” he added. “We would need a lot more to meet the demand but our suppliers are only allocating us the same amount we had ordered in the same period last year.”

“The insulation cost went up in May and there was a panic buy as construction sites reopened [in ROI]. Underfloor insulation 150mm PIR board used to cost €71, now it’s €81 per board which averages out as €600 extra for that component alone for a typical floor.”

Timber is another hard hit product; not just lengths but also board materials. Steel prices have also risen, from mesh for foundations to RSJs.

In another members only Facebook Live event, quantity surveyor Keith Kelliher said that Oriented Strand Board (OSB), a basic build material, had doubled in price. He said he didn’t expect the cost of steel and insulation to recover, as those cost increases would have happened even without Brexit, Covid or delays in timber felling licensing.

Electrician and plumber’s suppliers are hit by cables and copper prices increasing 20 to 25 per cent. Lead, for its part, has suffered a 15 per cent cost increase, slates six per cent and roof tiles 10 per cent. Roof felts are all €10 to €15 dearer a roll than they were last year, according to Padraic.

“Our suppliers say things will improve, but not in the short term. It could be Q2 of 2022 when we see prices stabilise again,” said Padraic.

Keith also doesn’t think there will be much of an improvement in prices until Easter, when he expects the price of timber and board materials to start easing.

“At the moment, we can only keep quotes valid for a week,” said Padraic. “Before this to three weeks was standard.”

One way for self-builders to keep costs down is to shop around but also open a builder’s merchant account, which Padraic says can yield 10 per cent savings in the form of trade discounts with a cash account.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index for May 2021 showed that building costs were rising at their fastest pace in 17 years.

To view the full interviews, become a Selfbuild+ member.

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email

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