An investigation by SpecFinish has discovered that the rising cost of materials in the interiors sector is failing to match a drop in commodity prices and fuelling concern among specialist contractors.

In 2010, as oil prices approached $150 per barrel, material costs soared in the interiors sector. But today, as oils prices slide below $30 per barrel and CPI inflation stands at 0.2 per cent, specialist contractors are raising concerns about a 4 per cent rise in plasterboard in January.

Andrew Measom, managing director of Measom Dryline, said: “These prices are not fixed. It’s not justified. They are just putting the price up and it could go up again next month.”

And as UK steel production capacity shrinks specialist contractors are also concerned that prices could soon rise.

Paul Little, managing director of fit-out group Coen Building Solutions, said: “The fear we’ve all got is that with all these steel plants closing, the cost of steel will become more expensive as we have taken capacity out of the UK. We’re losing the skills.”

The CPA’s economics director, Professor Noble Francis, commented: “A degree of the commodities price falls have been due to an economic slowdown, and consequent fall in demand, from some large emerging economies such as China. If the economic
slowdown continues in emerging economies, that could impact upon UK economic growth and, consequently, UK construction growth.”