The Modern Masonry Alliance is launching a huge marketing campaign to encourage housebuilders and developers away from timber frame and towards traditional masonry products.
The campaign, Masonry First, launches at Interbuild in October and the run-up to it includes advertising, editorial and an internet site. It is all designed to illustrate why so many housebuilders are moving back to masonry and to encourage the industry to make the most of it.
MMA director Mike Leonard told buildersmerchant.net that the game plan has shifted in the last few months and that housebuilders are less concerned with speed and sustainability and more concerned with cost and their own actual survival.
"Up until now all talk has been about the Code for Sustainable Homes and timber frame has formed a major part of this," he says. "But housebuilders are now not so concerned about what is going to happen in 2016 (when the Code comes into effect) and are rather more bothered about what's happening next week."
One of the perceived benefits of timber frame has been about speed of housebuilding. "Well, housebuilders don't need speed now in fact it's more or less the opposite, they need to be able to manage their cash flow," he continues.
"But the major reason why housebuilders are moving back to masonry is that masonry comes out at 15% cheaper to use than timber frame. Timber costs have gone up 30% in the last 12 months because all the timber we use for housing is imported. It's now cheaper to use masonry." It's also easier because it's a traditional merchant product which is on the ground at the merchants yard ready to be delivered when needed.
Masonry is a key product for builders merchants so the rush back to the sector by housebuilders represents a huge opportunity for them - the timber-frame business bypassed the sector. Part of the MMA's campaign will be encouraging merchants to get involved and make the most of the opportunity. The MMA are already in talks with the Builders Merchants Federation on this issue.
The website, masonryfirst.com will launch on September 1 and will be updated daily with news stories and will include links and feds to and from other relevant sites.
The Alliance will also have a big presence at Interbuild in October. "It's always struck me as odd that masonry has such a large part of the market yet we spend out time defending it. Well that's over. We are going on the attack and we are going to win market share," Leonard says.