Industry Update

Things are looking up for the residential building industry thanks to greater stability in costs for material and tradespeople. Weststyle’s team of designers, estimators, project managers and supervisors have their fingers on the pulse of Perth’s construction industry which means we are well-informed and can assist our clients to take the best advantage of the current situation.

The beginning of 2022 brought plenty of uncertainty within the industry, particularly in timber and steel, largely brought on by the conflicts in Ukraine. We are still seeing the odd price rise here and there, but we’re not experiencing the constant price rises that we were in the first half of the year. We are still a long way away from costs coming down, but things seem to have plateaued in general, so our team predicts that we are over the worst of it.

Bricks and bricklayers have been a contentious issue as of late, but the cost of bricks have already begun to decrease around 30-40 cents per brick. This has a positive effect on residential building as the WA standard double-brick building method becomes more affordable again. Our estimators have seen a slight drop in brick labour pricing and the supply chain problems for brick have eased as getting hold of the product doesn’t seem to be a problem for us at the moment.

Whilst the cost of some materials has become more stable, supply is still an issue. For example the price increases of timber have slowed down, but supply is still much the same as our timelines are still approximately eight to twelve weeks for roof lots. Steel remains quite similar to roof timber, the pricing has settled but lead times are still quite lengthy.

These prices fluctuations over time have created some challenging times for customers and builders, the biggest issue lay with the clients who began their home design process pre-COVID-19 who unfortunately got hit with all of the pricing increases to their build. We now find ourselves, as other builders will also, in a better position to give accurate pricing which makes for a smoother process. When we begin to talk dollars with the clients we can be sure we are discussing realistic figures. Yet these realistic figures are much higher than they were two years ago.

Since pre-COVID-19 times residential builds have seen about a 20-30 per cent price rise, the difficulty in this entire scenario is to manage clients’ expectations to match these high prices. It can be heartbreaking for some. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught people how to be adaptable and this is most definitely the case in the building industry. Things seem to chop and change, one week we may be struggling to get hold of certain types of glass, that steadies and then it will be another material in short supply. There seems to be always something that is a bit challenging, but these challenges are short-lived.

The key to good outcomes is communication, with suppliers, trades and clients. We start the discussions early with suppliers than we normally would because you just never know what the outcome will be. As long as we can plan ahead in detail then we have time up our sleeves to work through challenges.