Anyone doing up a property can expect to pay about 30 per cent more than last year, as the price of raw materials for finishes has shot up, according to interior designers and project managers.
From metals to glass, copper to concrete, paint to plaster, the hikes are being felt across the board.
Nowadays, quotes are only valid for two weeks – and sometimes even less – even though the works might be projected to start in six months’ time.
“If you ask for a quote on a Tuesday, you can even be told it is only valid until the end of that same week,” Sean Arrigo, designer and project manager from DPM, said.
This was the case with every trade, from carpenters to tile layers, he maintained.
Arrigo has been told that only a certain amount of any one tile is available and if more of it is required, the cost would go up by 20 per cent.
Imagine a €100,000 budget – and that is a tiny figure – shooting up to €130,000. It is a big change- Designer and project manager Sean Arrigo
While he estimated the increase in the price of raw materials was an average 30 per cent, metalwork had gone “crazy”.
“Before, you would buy a six-metre-long profile for a gate at €30. Now, in the space of four months, it costs €90 and even €120, depending on the thickness,” he said.
“Basic metals for steel fabrications, shop fittings and gates, for example, have trebled and even more this year while glass for apertures, partitions, shop fronts and shelving has more than doubled,” according to Arrigo, whose company operates in the design and project management industry for commercial works.
The hikes are not only on the finishes but also on the construction, which involves a lot of steelwork... and steel has seen higher increases, he said.
Electrical supplies, composed primarily of copper, have gone up by between 20 and 30 per cent over last year.
Electricians have pushed up prices by a minimum of 20 per cent. And Arrigo has calculated a 15 per cent increase on paints and gypsum plaster.
The rise has been constant but this year was “frightening”, he said of its impact on clients, particularly those doing commercial projects. They would have budgeted for their works as far back as a year ago.
“Imagine a €100,000 budget – and that is a tiny figure – shooting up to €130,000. It is a big change,” he noted.
Interior designers and project managers were struggling with the rising costs of commodities and were expected to work miracles, Arrigo said.
Interior designer Carlo Schembri described the situation as a “nightmare”, particularly for major projects, with things getting “complicated” when it came to loans for such works.
“If someone is building a massive hotel, the bank needs to know the costings of the furnishing and finishings,” he said.
“But quotes are unreliable and suppliers unable to commit to prices, meaning today’s proposal will not be valid when a job starts in six months’ time and the spend will change,” Schembri added.
Although prices have gone up, some are using today’s rates to sell old stock they bought previously- Interior designer
This has brought about the inability to commit to a contract, despite agreements, leaving designers in an “awkward” situation, while clients were taking a more cautious approach and backing out of various projects due to the uncertainty.
Domestic projects were more inclined to absorb the increases, according to Schembri.
Costs are also going up for basic to high-end furniture, which was also getting harder to source, he said, pointing to the “unpredictability” of shipping, logistics, materials and choice.
He pointed to a high number of items being unavailable on the website of a popular ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories firm, while its prices are up 10 to 15 per cent.
Like others in his field, Arrigo believes some suppliers are taking advantage of the situation and blaming shipping and other logistics.
Thousands of sheets of gypsum were imported in one trailer and, if its freight costs went up, it did not necessarily mean a 30 per cent increase on each item, he explained.
The square-metre installed rate for gypsum has jumped from €25 to €30, Arrigo said, adding that this was happening across the board.
Tilers and plasterers are charging more for their jobs but are taking advantage of the situation, in his view.
They are paying only slightly more for the raw materials and cannot inflate the product prices so much but they are charging higher rates for labour.
“Although prices have gone up, some are using today’s rates to sell old stock they bought previously,” said another interior designer.
However, there are the genuine cases who, even after quotes have been confirmed, receive calls from suppliers telling them the raw material they are buying has suddenly gone up.
“This happened just this week with a totally reliable carpenter with a small workshop. He needs to cover his costs. Not informing us would just mean he would suffer a massive loss.”
It also means architectural firms can be put in a “sticky situation” with their clients, having to put their interests first but also wanting to maintain good, long-standing relationships with suppliers and contractors.
A lot of time is spent re-evaluating, re-calculating and adjusting project budgets to try and give on some items and control the final costs as much as possible, the interior designer said.