Keystone Lintels Comment: Q1 2019

Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Lintels is BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels.

Not surprisingly, Q1 2019 is ahead of Q1 2018 although February was disappointing. No doubt the run up to the 29th March held back the overall potential for the quarter. Nevertheless it was a steady positive quarter, with many Brexit plans put on delay for another few months. Quarter two has started strongly, and the coming months will flush out if this is a result of a delay from Q1.

The NHBC (National House-Building Council) report for Q1 2019 has registrations up 3% to around 37,500 compared to the same period in 2018. This small increase is against low levels in Q1 2018, linked to poor weather conditions. Set against the now-expired deadline of Brexit (on 29th March) and adjusted for London region the figures do not look that encouraging. However, looking ahead, new house building demand remains strong. Ah yes, but so does the Brexit debate!

One area that housebuilders are focusing on is third-party certification. A third-party examination typically includes comprehensive formulation or material reviews, testing and facility inspections. Some housebuilders carry out their own inspections, in addition to third parties. NHBC and LABC (Local Authority Building Control) are also insisting on reputable certification on products with the British Board of Agrément, the standard most recognised and requested. The CE mark demonstrates compliance with the appropriate manufacturing standards for the product. Engineers and contractors using fabricated steelwork, such as steel lintels, will work with amended specifications to ensure only CE marked products are used on their projects. Certification is clearly on the agenda.

Merchants will be aware of the renewed focus on certified products. With accreditation becoming paramount, the manufacturers best placed to satisfy future demands will have a full portfolio of certified products, the ability to secure specification and the representation to engage fully with merchants.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.