Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Group UK is BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels
Build, Build, Build! In Q1 2021, we experienced Lockdown 3.0 and once again the construction industry upped its game and performed to new levels, with steel lintel purchases showing double digit growth on the same period in 2019.
There’s lots of factors behind this strong Q1 performance. The UK’s vaccination rollout continues to be a great success compared to other countries. The extension of the stamp duty holiday, increased availability of low interest mortgages and many other factors have contributed significantly to a strong new build and RMI market. House prices are increasing, and buyer demand is there.
In my comment at the end of Q4 2020, I stated ‘we are seeing raw material steel prices increase at rates never seen before, and the futures market shows no sign of receding. We can report at the end of Q1 2021 that prices are indeed continuing to rise at exceptionally high rates – rates we’ve never seen before – and the availability of steel is a real day-to-day challenge. The supply chain is working, however the volumes required to satisfy demand are not aligned with the supply of material. The next few months will be a balancing act for sure, and the allocation of finished goods will be required to make sure both the new build and the RMI market receive steel lintels.
On the specification side, we have seen a 60%+ uplift in demand for our thermal performing lintel range, compared to the same period in 2019. Under the new Building Regulations, Part L requires a 31% improvement in CO2 targets, meaning that the fabric of the building remains one of the key areas for the building industry to improve on.
As builders actively review their specifications to meet the new requirements, our technical teams are working with energy assessors to provide the best, most cost-effective solutions. The future looks bright.