UK Homes

UK Homeowners Struggling To Complete Interior Renovations Due To Labor Shortages

An industry-wide labor shortage in the United Kingdom is causing a multitude of homeowners to be left waiting for months longer than usual for bathroom and kitchen renovations/installations. The labor shortage is growing due to a combination of Brexit-related issues as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. 

While the pandemic overall has caused a major increase in the amount people have invested in their homes, the demand for labor hasn’t been able to keep up. Specifically, bathroom, kitchen, and room renovations would, on average, take about four to eight weeks to complete before the pandemic, and now homeowners can expect to be waiting at least 12-18 weeks. 

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Damian Walters is the chief executive of the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom, and Bathroom Installations, and recently spoke to the press about the “unprecedented demand for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and home improvement in general” throughout the pandemic. 

“Lengthening lead times were part of the fallout from the incredible labor shortage. Our organization has been inundated with inquiries from retailers desperate to recruit more fitters. There were a number of problems, including an ageing workforce and a decrease of youngsters wanting to take up apprenticeships. Brexit had also deterred tradesmen from moving to the UK for work,” Walters explained.

“There are not going to be any tradesmen parachuting in from Europe, or anywhere else for that matter. EU migration was a little bit like a Band-Aid that’s been ripped off and the real problems have been exposed,” he said.

B&Q is known as the UK’s largest DIY project chain, and according to their data sales of supplies for interior DIY projects have increased by 13% within the last year of the pandemic, with some of the most popular projects being organizing outdoor spaces, and new kitchen and bathroom designs.

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Global supply chains are still dealing with trading disruptions brought on by the pandemic while demand has continued to increase for these supplies. This is not only bad for the DIY renovator, but for contractors who are still in business but don’t have access to the supplies they need to complete the projects being asked of them. 

The EU has reported shortages in everything from plumbing materials, to screws, handheld and power tools, as well as appliances like washing machines and fridges. 

The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom, and Bathroom Installations has announced a campaign that will begin this fall and hopefully recruit 700 apprentices from the UK’s school systems every year to become apprentices in the construction industry. Without new recruits, according to Walters, the “problem will only worsen, as a third of sole traders are due to retire over the next decade.” 

“We simply haven’t focused on vocational learning, and that has caused huge problems in terms of a gap between the demand and the available labour to do this type of work. Put bluntly, we’ve relied for too long on an ageing workforce who are now looking forward to their retirement. We need to pull out all the stops to prepare a new generation of skilled installers ready to take their place,”  said Walters.

Organized Shelves

Creative Storage Solutions for the Home

Pretty much anybody can attest to feeling at times overwhelmed by the organizational needs of their living space. If we’re not careful, personal belongings can accumulate over time, requiring different storage solutions. Luckily, it only takes a little bit of hard work and creativity to optimize your home storage situation, and a little bit of inspiration goes a long way when organizing the home. As such, this guide contains several suggestions for unique and functional storage options.

Taking advantage of creative storage solutions can help to free up closet and drawer space in the bedroom. For instance, if you own several scarves, you can store them on a hanger mounted to the back of your closet door with a shower ring instead of keeping them in the dresser. Hangers can also be used to store jewelry. Additionally, storing things under the bed is a great idea — rolling storage containers that slide under the bed are widely available, and are ideal for storing sweaters for easy access in the fall. Wooden spice racks are great not only for the kitchen but for the bedroom as well, as they can hold perfume bottles, nail polish, and more.

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Bathrooms are perhaps the rooms most prone to issues with storage, as they are often the smallest rooms in the house where a variety of items are kept. While some bathrooms have drawers or cabinets beneath the sink, others feature pedestal-style sinks, which do not — as such, you can take advantage of that space by placing a rolling organizer or a narrow, shallow cupboard there. A wine rack can be mounted on the bathroom wall and repurposed for storing towels, and for additional storage with a unique look, you can mount baskets onto the wall.

The home office is another part of the house where storage issues tend to crop up, as they can become inundated with a sea of office accessories and other miscellaneous items as you work. In the home office, organization is key, as things like pens, scissors, rolls of tape, and other accessories are essentially worthless if they’re too hard to find. As such, placing an old muffin tins into a desk drawer is an easy way to organize small items like paper clips, push pins, and USB drives. A label-maker is particularly useful in the office, and it may be a good idea to repurpose several glass jars or other containers, label them, and use them to store pens, markers, scissors, and other items.

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Finally, like many rooms in the house the kitchen can host its share of storage problems as well. Many people have junk drawers in their kitchen cabinets that haven’t been cleaned out in a while; as these drawers often contain things that you really don’t need to hold onto, cleaning out the junk drawer is a good place to start. If you’re short on space in the kitchen, mounting a pegboard on the wall can be a smart way to store pots and pans, among other things. Don’t forget about the space above your cabinets and refrigerator; while things can collect dust up there, this space can be useful for keeping things that you only use once in a while, and pushing things towards the wall can help keep them out of sight. Free-standing shelves are a worthy investment for the kitchen, especially if you are looking to clear up space in your pantry, as they allow you to store ingredients out in the open. Lastly, the sides of cabinets can be repurposed as storage solutions by mounting metal hooks from which to hang utensils.