Demand for tradespeople up by 50% in just two years

New research from Rated People reveals homeowner desire for home improvement went through the roof in 2021. Nearly half (49%) of UK residents improved their homes and demand for tradespeople increased by 32% in just one year. Almost two in three tradespeople (62%) say last year was ‘the busiest year they’ve ever had’. In fact, compared to the start of the pandemic in 2020, demand for home improvement has gone up by 50%.

The findings are taken from the 2022 Rated People Home Improvement Trends Report, and the study shows that 77% of UK tradespeople experienced increased customer demand in 2021. Carpenters/joiners are the trade that’s reported to have experienced increased consumer demand the most, with almost nine in 10 (89%) saying demand went up in 2021.

The top 10 trades that say they experienced increased homeowner demand in 2021:

  1. Carpenter/joiner – 89% (say they felt demand increase in 2021)
  2. Painter and decorator – 83%
  3. Tiler – 82%
  4. Handyperson – 81%
  5. Builder – 78%
  6. Roofer – 75%
  7. Plasterer/renderer – 74%
  8. Gardener/landscape gardener – 73%
  9. Electrician – 73%
  10. Plumber – 72%

Opportunity in a challenging time

The surge in demand since the start of the pandemic has brought about huge opportunities for tradespeople. But they’ve also been hit with a series of challenges – almost nine in 10 tradespeople (89%) say their costs increased in 2021, 84% experienced materials supply issues and just under half (44%) had workforce shortages.

As a result, four in five tradespeople (83%) had to increase their prices and almost two thirds (62%) had to delay or cancel jobs.

More than one in three tradespeople (43%) went on to say the challenges from last year led them to feel an increased level of stress, and a quarter (25%) say they felt exhausted. But, one in three UK tradespeople (34%) did also say that the opportunities resulting from increased demand meant they felt an increased sense of motivation, and a quarter (27%) said they had increased job satisfaction and an increased sense of achievement last year.

Material and workforce shortages

Unsurprisingly, COVID was a major cause of disruption in 2021, but the main reason for cancellations and delays was actually materials shortages, with 44% of tradespeople saying they had to delay or cancel work because of supply issues.

Supply issues were felt across the industry. Plasterers/renderers were the most affected, but nearly all trades experienced shortages. Between 75% and 96% of the top 10 most affected trades found it difficult to get the materials they needed.

The top 10 trades that were most affected by materials shortages in 2021:

  1. Plasterer/renderer – 96% (experienced materials shortages)
  2. Builder – 95%
  3. Gardener/landscape gardener – 87%
  4. Carpenter/joiner – 87%
  5. Painter and decorator – 85%
  6. Bathroom fitter – 85%
  7. Handyperson – 81%
  8. Electrician – 77%
  9. Plumber – 77%
  10. Roofer – 75%

Workforce and contractor shortages were also experienced by many trade businesses in 2021, with the main causes being COVID isolation and a lack of skilled workers.

The top reasons why UK trades suffered workforce shortages in 2021:

  1. Needing to isolate because of COVID – 29%
  2. Lack of skilled/experienced workers – 22%
  3. Staff/subcontractors not wanting to work because of COVID risks – 15%
  4. Loss of staff members due to Brexit – relocating out of UK – 15%
  5. Fewer people getting into the trades industry – 14%

Increasing costs = increasing prices for homeowners

This year, nine in 10 tradespeople (91%) expect their costs will increase, and 82% say they will need to put their prices up in 2022. 97% of builders, 91% of heating engineers and 89% of plasterers say they’re planning to increase their prices this year. And when looking at the top 10 trades most likely to charge higher prices, a minimum of 77% from each trade say they will need to put their prices up in 2022 to remain profitable.

The top 10 trades increasing their prices in 2022:

  1. Builders – 97% (are upping their prices this year)
  2. Gas/heating engineers – 91%
  3. Plasterers/renderers – 89%
  4. Carpenters/joiners – 89%
  5. Handypeople – 88%
  6. Plumbers – 84%
  7. Roofers – 82%
  8. Gardeners – 81%
  9. Painters/decorators – 79%
  10. Electricians – 77%

The most in-demand trades in 2022

This year, demand doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, as 86% of tradespeople across the UK say they expect to be very busy in 2022.

According to the study, all of the bathroom fitters and tilers surveyed said they are gearing up for another year of unprecedented demand, and across the top 10 trades set to be the busiest this year, a minimum of 82% expect to be very busy.

The top 10 trades with the most homeowner demand in 2022:

  1. Bathroom fitter – 100% (expect to be very busy in 2022)
  2. Tiler – 100%
  3. Roofer – 89%
  4. Plumber – 86%
  5. Plasterer/renderer – 85%
  6. Electrician – 85%
  7. Carpenter/joiner – 85%
  8. Painter and decorator – 85%
  9. Builder – 84%
  10. Gas/heating engineer – 82%

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