Small and medium construction companies are looking for solutions to address the shortage of materials, despite the widespread impact they have had on the industry over the past year. More than seven in 10 dealers survey respondents said they use one or more suppliers to deal with widespread material shortages, while 41 percent said they plan ahead and buy more items earlier to make up for difficulties. Small and medium businesses made up the majority of those surveyed by Travis Perkins, with 79 percent employing up to three people. The survey, of 1,446 people called the Repair, Maintenance and Improvement Index, found that one in three respondents said material shortages were their biggest problem, but also that “UK traders are finding ways to overcome challenges posed by global shortages of key building materials” Almost half of them said they avoided the full impact of the crisis by looking for alternative brands or products. Material shortages, which have plagued construction across the UK since late last year, have had little or no impact on business in the past two months, according to more than six in 10 respondents. Looking ahead, 56 percent said they expect workloads to increase over the next two months, in part due to the government easing restrictions imposed by the pandemic. About four in 10 of those surveyed said they expect their workload to remain the same over the same period. Last week, experts warned that materials and labor shortages were “starting to take a toll,” after the latest ONS data showed construction production fell for the third consecutive month in June. On the second and third of those two months, activity in the previously booming repair and maintenance sector declined. Nick Roberts, CEO, Travis Perkins, said: “The material shortages clearly have a significant impact in the form of planning challenges and delays on existing projects and start-ups of new ones, but clients are rising brilliantly to meet this challenge by managing and proactively working around these issues through Planning more in advance and finding alternative solutions, such as trying new products and working more collaboratively.” The UK has been experiencing material shortages since last year, with some production slowing due to lockdowns and factory closures. Increased construction activity earlier in 2021 exacerbated the problem, exacerbated by shipping problems that included the closing of the Suez Canal by a container ship, and the partial shutdown of a Chinese port last week.