In 2021 we heard about a lot of the problems impacting the home improvement sector. Some could be seen as ‘good’ problems, with record levels of demand hitting the UK as a result of those buying behaviours moving from holidays to home improvement.

The UK RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector is worth approximately £52.3bn to the UK economy. Private housing RMI is expected to grow by 3-4% per year up to 2025.

In March 2021, we saw the highest private RMI spend for over a decade. MyBuilder.com is receiving more than 150,000 job requests from families each month, a rate it says is ‘significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels’.

Mortgage broker at Mojo Mortgages says compared to 2019, 2021 remortgage applications for home improvements were up 174%.

As those good problems continue to rise, we could see the issues unfold in trying to deliver that record level of demand.

 

Record Levels of Skill Shortages

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of Trade Body, the Federation of Master Builders, stated that ‘over half of small, local builders can’t find skilled tradespeople’. We could see builders demanding fees up to £2,000.00 to reserve their services six months in advance.

It is estimated that the UK will need an extra 1.25m trade workers by 2030, including 305,000 qualified trade apprentices, something very much recognised by The British Institute of Kitchen and Bathroom Installation (BiKKBI), and their CEO, Damian Walters.

Listen to this… one-fifth of construction trade workers aged 55 or over will retire before 2030. Given that there is around 1.2m RMI companies in the UK, that is the potential for a lot of skill to leave the sector.

 

Record Levels of Material Shortages

So what has caused it. Take your pick:

  • COVID pandemic
  • Brexit
  • Demand surge
  • Shortages in production
  • Shortages in haulage
  • The Suez Canal blockage.

As a result, 82% of traders are reporting material price increases. Not good for the UK consumer or UK purchasing a business.

 

A different view

As a result of the above, the UK is starting to witness record levels of detriment. But is it actually a result of the above, or are some older problems still existing?

QASSS currently provide outsourced complaints management, along with independent alternative dispute resolution and claims management services. As a result, we see a lot of what is happening at the ‘back end’. 2021 was a tough year for sure, but looking at the dispute volumes and categories coming through, we can see that still at the top of the charts are:

In fact, when it came to disputes, there were very few that could be attributed directly to the two main challenges are highlighted above. This is important to note so that as an industry, we don’t lose sight of the issues that still sit there, and it is those issues that are inviting many disruptors into the market.

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