Master Builders Victoria (MBV) asks consumers to be kind and patient with builders and tradespeople this festive season as the building and construction industry continues to suffer from supply shortages.

MBV CEO Rebecca Casson said ongoing building materials shortages resulting from COVID-19 disruptions and shipping delays, along with natural disasters and industrial action, have increased the pressure on builders and tradespeople.

“These unprecedented shortages have led to huge price rises, particularly for timber, which has risen by as much as 30 per cent this year. As well as timber shortages, builders and tradespeople face a shortage of structural steel and Colorbond roof sheeting,” Ms Casson said. 

“There is also an acute shortage of qualified builders, bricklayers, concreters and electricians in some areas of the state, particularly in regional Victoria where there is significant building demand.

“Timber suppliers responding to requests are unsure when in-demand products will become available.  

“The shortage of timber and trade shortages is already significantly impacting businesses and project delivery across the state. The cost and time frame for building a new home has also been pushed out considerably.

“MBV is asking Victorians to be kind and patient with builders and tradespeople this festive season, especially as everyone is trying their best in some exceptionally unique and challenging circumstances.”

Meanwhile, MBV is reminding Victorians to ensure their balcony or deck is safe this festive season.

Gathering with families and friends on balconies can provide a great deal of enjoyment during warmer weather.  However, Ms Casson said if balconies were not well maintained, they could pose a serious safety risk.

“Balconies have collapsed before, causing serious injury and even death in some instances. People have even fallen through poorly maintained barriers,” she said.

“There are several environmental factors that can deteriorate balconies, decks and railings - termites, timber rot, corrosion to fixings, and weakened mortar, to name a few.

“Poor maintenance, poor ventilation, lack of protection from the elements, and the orientation of the structure are other aspects which can challenge maintenance.”

Ms Casson said homeowners and businesses should seek the services of a professional with adequate experience and qualifications - a suitably qualified building practitioner such as a Master Builder or a structural engineer - to assess a balcony’s condition or carry out maintenance.

Ms Casson said property owners must ensure that their balcony is properly constructed and maintained.

Owners must know the total load capacity their deck or balcony is designed to hold and ensure these limits are not exceeded.

She said many of the reasons behind balcony collapses involve the failure of the property owner to correct a known defect with the balcony.

Ms Casson said Victorians should regularly check for signs of wear and tear on their balconies or puddles of water at the base of posts or on the deck or balcony surface.

Homeowners should consult the original specifications or have a registered building practitioner, such as a Master Builder or professional engineer, conduct an assessment.

“Balconies, decks and balustrades do require permits, and any repairs or maintenance may also require a permit, so always check with your local council building department to see what laws need to be followed,” Ms Casson said.

“If you want to get your balcony fixed, it’s important to be aware of the current supply shortages.

“So, keep this in mind and get your balcony inspected to ensure it is in a safe and sound condition, and you can continue to enjoy using it this summer.”