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Northern Ireland builders hampered by a shortage of bricks

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland builders face a lack of bricks as production of the essential material fails to keep up with a revival in house-building, it has been claimed.

The National Association of Estate Agents' (NAEA) Bricks Report today said the industry UK-wide would need to find 1.4 billion bricks to plug Britain's shortfall of 264,000 homes.

The study, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), found that more than 60% of small and medium-sized construction firms faced a two-month wait for new brick orders last year. Jamesey Hagan, managing director of Co Antrim firm Hagan Homes, said the firm was still dogged by a lack of bricks. "There's a real shortage of bricks. I think it's because a lot of the plants shut down in the downturn," he said.

He said his firm now worked to a schedule of pre-ordering bricks well in advance of when we even need them. "We have had to put building on hold at times when we have had no bricks," said Mr Hagan.

Many former brick suppliers have closed down - such as Tyrone Brick - though Lagan Brick, part of the Lagan Group, remains a major supplier.

Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said the lack of bricks was holding up the house-building process "from beginning to end". He added: "We're concerned that the impact of the EU referendum means this problem could get worse as we rely on the import of brick components from the EU and, of course, many of our skilled labourers come from there too."

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