– Posted on Monday 19th July 2021

Manx National Heritage, the charity responsible for the Isle of Man’s natural and cultural heritage, has highlighted the resulting impacts of the unprecedented combination of supply chain challenges and a boom in the construction sector which is having a major detrimental effect on works planned at the Island’s national heritage sites.

The heritage charity is facing significantly higher bills for renovation projects and development works as quantity surveyors and builders grapple with soaring labour costs, shortages and associated price rises of essential materials.

Steve Blackford, Head of Properties for Manx National Heritage said:

“The overheating construction market and combined challenges with supplies, has triggered widespread price increases, which MNH are unable to sustain from existing budgets.  The sharp rise in costs and shortage of labour means current major projects, which are priced months in advance, are at risk of delay or deferred completion.   

The impact is also being seen for upcoming projects including the new TT Gallery at the Manx Museum, the renovation of the Baillie Scott Thornbank property, repairs to the Laxey Wheel and the general ongoing maintenance of our historic sites.  We are struggling to secure suitable contractors to undertake some of these projects or even to price for the work with such volatility in the cost and supply of materials and labour”.

Data from the UK Construction Products Association indicates timber has gone up more than 80% in recent months, while copper and steel prices have jumped by over 40%.  The costs of paints and varnishes are up over a third.  Likewise, labour costs have increased as workers move between contractors with demand for their skills unprecedented.

Mr Blackford continued:

“The production of building materials was severely affected by recent lockdowns when many factories and timber mills closed. Since reopening firms have struggled to catch up with the backlog of orders, materials have been in short supply and global demand has spiked as economies reopen and the local construction sectors boom.

This combination of factors will mean delays to projects starting or completing and the cost of the projects rising beyond the allocated budgets.”

MNH are about to advertise a number of construction and engineering projects for competitive tender via the Isle of Man Government Procurement Portal but are understandably concerned as to the likely response in the current climate.

MNH appreciate that other charities and businesses are also suffering from the impacts of the current situation and hope that by bringing attention to the problem that solutions or improvements in the supply chain may be found.

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