Building materials

PHOTO: Building materials

Try buying a bag of nails these days – they’re almost as rare as hens’ teeth. And if you do find them, buying them will leave a huge hole in your pocket.

It’s all part of the crisis in the building supply chain.

For months builders and other tradespeople have been struggling with empty shop shelves; weeks, sometimes month-long delays in delivery of essential materials; and soaring costs.

Covid-disrupted shipping and port backlogs, and unprecedented global demand are being blamed.

But the hard to find, outrageously expensive bag of nails is not all because of the pandemic.

It’s also about China’s attempt to be greener, says Building Industry Federation chief executive Julien Leys.

“Most of our nails come out of Asia, places like China, that are now going through their own contraction in terms of production because they don’t have the energy due to a lack of coal, and the whole adjustment around trying to shift away from coal.

“That’s now exposed that the supply chain and manufacturing base is actually not set up for (the change) yet.”

Leys spends a lot of time dealing with suppliers, shipping merchants, small builders to large manufacturers.

The supply issues are “ongoing and constant.”

At a bankers’ Q and A session of a Westpac webinar about the broken supply chain early this week, Leys broke the news that the crisis is far from over.

He explains to The Detail’s Sharon Brettkelly how the pandemic has highlighted numerous weaknesses.