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Housing 2023 – our key takeaways

27-29 June were three packed days at Housing 2023. Once again, CIH hosted a great event for the sector and brought together key personnel related to the industry. Keynote speakers included a selection of MPs and ex-MPs, journalists and presenters, chief executives, and chairpeople, all with some interest or influence in relation to housing.

Turnout was strong and it was an excellent opportunity for us to reconnect with those at the coalface of the sector and the realities they are confronted with. There was a constant stream of visitors to our stand, viewing the range of Solidcor fire doors and discussing their project needs and challenges with our team. We’d like to thank everybody that visited us – we really appreciate the interest and conversations.

Looking back on all those discussions, three key industry insights stand out for us:

Takeaway 1 – Tightening legislation is resulting in less choice of fire doors

Compliance and certification of fire doors remains a focus of the industry, and we can all agree that this is critical to uphold quality standards. With the government aiming to simplify legislation and make EN 1634 the only recognised certification, there are less certified doors in the marketplace that will make the grade in the future. In some instances, this tightening of requirements is squeezing manufacturers out of the market, and that has the effect of reducing choice.

We were also told of an increase in fire door consultants pushing for primary fire test evidence before approving fire doors for certain applications. With many certified doorsets on the market relying on third-party evidence for their certification, this again raises the bar, but reduces choice.

We were glad to be able to inform visitors coming to our stand that all Solidcor doors are tested and certified under EN 1634, based on our own primary fire test evidence. And that includes all the door set configurations that we offer, including glazing and sidelights.

Takeaway 2 – Ongoing supply chain issues are increasing lead times

We had several visitors to the stand who spoke to us about the long lead times that they face when ordering fire doors for their projects. The supply chain challenges within our industry are clearly still affecting some suppliers, and lead times can now be a matter of months, not weeks! 

It seems these delays are often down to sourcing of materials or complete doorsets from China and Eastern Europe, where the effects of the pandemic and wider supply challenges are still being felt. Whatever the causes, the impact on contractors here in the UK can be significant. Extended supply lead times can result in project delays – costly in themselves, and particularly so if they trigger penalty clauses.

We were able to reassure all our visitors that Solidcor is still able to fulfil its core promise to customers: doors delivered within 10 days of your confirmed order. We remain able to achieve this, due to our strategy of sourcing materials from within the UK and Western Europe, together with design streamlining across the range.

Takeaway 3 – There’s increasing confidence within the sector

After a challenging period for the industry, we were pleased to pick up a new-found bullishness in the market, reflecting what we have been experiencing in recent weeks. Contracts are being given the go-ahead more swiftly, and projects are moving at greater speed through the project phases. 

We think this is possibly a reflection of inflation starting to settle somewhat, and some positive news having come through as to the performance of the construction sector more widely. Whatever the reasons may be, it’s great to see the British spirit of resilience kicking in, with a determination to weather the latest economic storm.

As we now enter into the second half of the year, we look forward to continuing to support the housing sector, helping to ensure that every fire door fulfils our ‘Safe today, safe tomorrow’ mantra. It was great to meet so many at Housing 2023, and we look forward to doing so again next year!