Global materials shortage a challenge for DIY’ers

Carpentry Tutor Rick King


 Our booming building industry is suffering from a global shortage of building materials and products. If you’re planning some home renovations or DIY projects this summer, it would pay to start sourcing materials and booking tradespeople now!

 We are building more new homes in New Zealand than ever, but the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have disrupted production and the supply chain in all areas of the industry, and led to hiking of prices for materials and shipping. Suppliers are prioritising orders from their major clients, while smaller builders are waiting long periods for materials, or having their orders cancelled altogether, leaving them unable to complete builds until supplies start flowing again. 

 Also contributing to this crisis is the global growth in DIY as a result of lockdowns! Those of us isolating at home with time on our hands have noticed what needs attention around our properties, turning our hands to maintenance and home improvements, buying up timber products and nails to rebuild fences and decks, and banging up swing sets and playhouses to occupy the kids at home. 

Some of us have added or altered rooms when we find we need more space for a family studying or working from home.

Kiwis who typically spend money on travel, or other pursuits stymied by lockdowns, are diverting that cash to home improvements. This has been terrible for New Zealand’s tourism industry, but good news for the state of New Zealand’s housing stock. 

So, if you have some home improvement projects in mind for the weekend, or the coming summer, you’ll need to think ahead when it comes to sourcing materials, and booking tradespeople.

Careful consideration of what you will need, and how much, ahead of time, means you can gather your tools and materials, make orders in good time, and avoid the frustration of scouring suppliers for missing items on the very day that you intend to start (and maybe also finish) a project. 

It’s also wise to secure all necessary materials before starting your grand design – to avoid leaving something unfinished, unsafe, or exposed to the elements.

If you are unable to get the materials or products you need, there may be an alternative product that will do the job – if you can be flexible about using a substitute you may have more success securing all you need for your DIY venture.

If it isn’t crucial to use brand new materials – have you any materials gathering dust at home that could be re-cycled or re-purposed? Could you complete your project with recycled building materials and joinery, or re-claimed timber? – which may be easier to source at this time.

We kiwis are proud DIY’ers. A bit of planning, to negotiate this period of unprecedented demand, will see our projects through!

As well as global demand for materials, there is a labour shortage in the building industry, and a particularly high demand for builders on the West Coast. Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s 34-week building and construction programme includes three weeks’ work experience with a local builder, and you’ll receive training in the entire house-building process. 

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