BMBI Expert Andy Williamson, Group Managing Director IKO plc, comments exclusively on Roofing Products for Q2 2017.
Although construction was up overall in the last quarter, roofing was flat at best in much of the market. Housebuilding is still showing growth but slowing and commercial projects continue to be affected by delays. Raw material price rises – partly due to shortages and partly the result of increases in fuel and energy costs – and Euro currency inflation have started to hit the market, which affects sales volumes.
Skills shortages remain a concern in RMI and commercial sectors, and with continuing uncertainty over Brexit, this is likely to get worse. Looking at the key indicators, new build seems to be slowing as well, and the CPA (Construction Products Association) forecasts show construction softening in 2018.
Following the tragic Grenfell fire, there is likely to be much more emphasis throughout the supply chain – and in all areas of construction – on products meeting regulations, and ensuring they are specified and installed correctly. The Bonfield Report ‘Each Home Counts’ (December 2016) was the first to highlight the need for a review of standards and regulations in the context of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The aim of the review is to raise the bar in a way that protects householders and minimises the risk of poor quality installations.
Earlier this year the roofing industry welcomed the new NFRC (National Federation of Roofing Contractors) guidelines on safe practice when using gas torches. The Safe2Torch campaign is the result of two years’ work and will directly affect at least 50% of all the flat roofs installed in the UK. It aims to put safety first at the design stage. Although the guidelines aren’t mandatory, ensuring fire risks are identified at the survey stage and factored into specifications is a great contribution to safety in roofing. Developed with contractor and manufacturer NFRC members, it should significantly reduce the risk of roof fires when using gas torches, either to dry out roofs or to install torch-on membranes. That can only be a good thing for the industry, end-clients and the market.