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Construction risk of ongoing materials shortages – how do you protect yourself?

31 August 2021

The construction industry is facing significant challenges related to the availability of materials. Such issues can result in delays to construction projects and a high probability of losses to parties.

How should you look to protect yourself from risks associated with delays from lack of materials?

Designers / Specifiers

This would include both consultants and contractors with design responsibility.

When specifying materials and products as part of your design are you making any attempt to investigate what the availability is of such items specified?

What if, say, the building envelope is designed using a facade product manufactured overseas, the availability of which is delayed during construction. If the designer did not make serious enquiries as to the availability of the product, does it accept a foreseeable liability for the delay?


Clients ask for amounts of reassuring information from its contractors / designers. Should this now include statements providing the employer with an assurance that its proposed building asset is designed to avoid foreseeable risks of unavailable building materials?


Underwriters, as part of the risk assessment of insureds at renewal time, should now consider how insured's manage the risk of the availability of the items being specified in their designs.


By definition innovation utilises new materials and products for which the future availability cannot be fully assessed. Consequently will the existing risk of innovation be further inflated by this issue effectively stifling its promotion?

Has the time arrived for materials availability to become a significant part of a construction project risk assessment, and irrespective of this should designers / specifiers ensure they have evidence to protect them from associated claims for losses?

If you require any further information, please contact Ian Cooper.

Further Reading