Life after lockdown: How the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we build

Posted By

Eoghan McKeever



For a couple of weeks last month in the UK, Thistle MultiFinish building plaster, which usually retails at just over £5, was being sold on the black market for between £35 and £40.


“I started getting calls from people I haven’t heard from in years asking if I had any,” Dan Hall, a builder from Surrey — a county south-west of London — told Euronews. “There is none left, it’s all gone, it’s all been used up.”

The construction industry makes up around 10% of the British economy and was one of the last sections of the UK economy to shut down, with pictures of packed construction site canteens causing controversy days after the lockdown was announced on March 27.


In the end, said Hall, who owns his own firm, HSL Building Services, but has worked extensively on sites as well as private projects, it was the supply chain that forced UK builders to stop working, rather than any advice from the government.


Two months on, the problem remains. Even the building merchants that have reopened rely on stocks from factories, many of which are closed. Those stores that do have stock are often reluctant to deliver for fear that their staff will get sick.


“I’m doing a job at the moment and it took me a full eight hour day to get all the bits ready and supplied to the job. It would normally take me 15 minutes,” said Hall.


“It’s well and good that we can work if we’re safe, but if we can’t get stuff we can’t work.”





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