Contractors fully booked, long wait times in construction sector

Construction and renovations of family homes are suffering long delays because of a combination of contractors’ full order books, long delivery times for materials and a shortage of trained tradespeople, De Tijd reports.

Notary records show an increase of 8% in the number of houses sold in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2018. Since many of those homes require some degree of renovation, the increase has put the building trade under pressure.

Anyone currently seeking a building contractor is unlikely to find an opening before the end of the year as things stand, the paper reports. Two years ago, the maximum waiting time was no more than two to three months. Contractors themselves, while sitting with full order books, are also having to cope with a shortage of man and material, as casual workers are widely available, but qualified trades suffering shortages, as vacancies exceed the number of tradespeople available to fill them.

Deliveries of materials are being held up by the sheer number of orders to be fulfilled. The National Bank reports that sales of building materials increased in the first quarter of this year by 12.7%, but suppliers cannot keep up with demand, in particular for decorative stone and insulation materials, with the result that many building projects lie still.

De Tijd quotes one contractor from Herentals in Antwerp province. “I’ve never seen what we’re now going through in 30 years as a contractor,” said Dirk Hellemans of building group Hadibouw. “There are clear indications that an over-heating of the building market is underway.”

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