Derrick McFarland, BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels reflects on the strong performance of the Builders Merchant Industry at the end of 2020 with the Brexit deadline driving a growth in sales. He also shares his insights on the key considerations for 2021 including how the new changes to Part L building regulations will drive a ‘Fabric First’ approach to house building.
“Q4 2020 delivered a strong performance to close the year off. Steel lintel sales achieved double digit growth on Q4 2019, driven by a stimulus of accelerated purchasing ahead of the Brexit deadline.”
Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Lintels is BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels.
Q4 2020 delivered a strong performance to close the year off. Steel lintel sales achieved double digit growth on Q4 2019, driven by a stimulus of accelerated purchasing ahead of the Brexit deadline. On further analysis, this is fairly evenly split by the volume house builders calling off additional material, and steel lintels for merchant stock yards’ over the counter business.
We have to be thankful that the construction sector remains open, in what have been very distressing times for many loved ones, and very challenging times managing social distancing and positives tests at places of work. This will remain a challenge for 2021.
We are seeing the raw material steel prices for steel lintels increase at rates never seen before, and the future market shows no sign of this receding. This is not necessarily a result of Brexit but is more linked to production cuts in 2020 driven by worldwide lockdowns in response to Covid. We remain watchful on availability, specifically in relation to the levels of steel production across Europe and steel demand. The roll out of vaccinations in Britain is a positive, and we also need our European neighbours to increase the intensity of their vaccination programmes if we are to obtain all the building materials we need in the UK.
Hi-thermal performing lintels with accreditation are the future. At last the new building regulations have been agreed with Part L requiring a 31% improvement in CO2 targets. Critically for the environment, ‘Fabric First’ remains the acknowledged improvement strategy. Fabric First means improving the fabric of the building first before reaching for costlier and less efficient solutions. This is due to be implemented in June 2022, and any plot with current regulations not ‘started’ within one year will need to be updated to the new building regulations. With tighter quality control requirements from Building Control, we expect the larger sites will switch quicker than we have previously experienced with Building regulation changes.