Bill Price has a spring in his step
Until recently, the main driver for increased activity in the construction sector has been growth in the house building sector, with very little growth in other sectors. Even in the housing sector, recent poor weather and flooding has delayed new starts and blunted growth.
However, figures released as part of the latest UK Construction Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), suggest that the tide may have turned and that funds are now being released to start on a number of long delayed civil engineering and infrastructure projects. Whilst some of these are maintenance contracts, others are new construction which should feed into increased employment.
Compared to housing, large civil engineering projects do not perhaps rely to the same extent on Builders Merchants for supplies of materials, but some degree of a ‘knock on’ factor is still to be expected. Supporting every ‘heroic’ civil engineering structure there is an extensive network of smaller projects, which often need materials other than large quantities of concrete, glass or steel. This is where the Merchant comes back into play, but it’s difficult to predict the specific products that will be needed.
Drainage, site accommodation, and all those ‘fiddly’ little jobs needed to make things fit, or to seal holes cut in the wrong place, all need specialist materials in appropriate quantities. Wastage is often an issue on larger construction sites (who hasn’t seen a pallet of ruined cement bags, left exposed to the elements, on a big site?) and weather resistant pre-packed materials often offer a more effective solution than bulk materials for many jobs.
We can all hope that the construction sector as a whole is beginning to get back on track, rather than being driven by various niche markets. This being the case, the wide range of materials stocked by most Builders Merchants will return to being a valuable resource for the industry.
Bill Price is National Commercial Technical Manager at Lafarge Tarmac.
Follow him on Twitter at @ConcreteDrBill