The large scale shift to home-working during the pandemic has put down permanent roots, resulting in ongoing investment in garden offices. The trend was given a further boost by rising property prices through 2021/22 as householders saw developing garden areas adding value to their properties. And even with house prices now declining, we see momentum in this area going forward, as owners now see a garden office helping their home stand out from the crowd.

The upturn in home remodelling and renovating, which began in the health crisis, also continues, with consumers investing in their houses as live-work spaces rather than trying to move in today’s tightening and unpredictable property market.

Both these trends, developing home office space and upgrading properties, have seen timber cladding remain in high demand at Howarth through the pandemic to date. As with most building materials, weather plays a part in cladding consumption and the mild winter saw a lot of demand through to November. Thankfully, pricing for many of our timber products has also practically returned to pre-pandemic levels, and availability on most items is excellent. Given the current tightening of retail spending (due to higher mortgage/debt servicing costs, combined with rapidly rising energy prices), households are now prioritising their spending. But we see that actually further incentivising development of garden space and conversion to usable accommodation.

Pricing and supply are also key to driving our cladding business. To enhance sales, we’ve focused on keeping product lines competitive and reliable. And, fortunately, we have not yet encountered any supply concerns on larch, with the company transitioning away from Siberian and focusing on obtaining western larch.

Compared to 2021, garden development projects may have dropped slightly, with fewer consumers spending prolonged periods at homes. But home improvement, with customers searching for new ways to invest in and improve the value, functionality, and aesthetic of their property using cladding continues. To demonstrate its potential, timber cladding has also been added to our Howarth Malton branch

Cladding has gained in popularity and is now also widely used in new builds as well as home renovations. This is due not just to the appearance of cladding on homes, but also the general capacity of cladding to increase thermal insulation of a property. We’re seeing cladding in new build primarily in education, modular building and new housing/eco housing projects. The sustainability of our cladding materials is an additional sales driver, as is their durability, giving developers confidence to build a property knowing that it will be long-lasting, and have enhanced environmental credentials.

Equally, as a company, we are constantly striving to improve our products and further increase choice and quality. We provide a variety of colours, profiles, and finishes, with Off Set, PTGV, and Ship Lap cladding being Howarth’s most popular products. And although we have not released any additional colours or species recently, we are now in the early phases of obtaining a replacement for frake. Our objective is also to widen product choice in the future to add to claddings’ appeal and further grow sales.

With the cost of living crisis spreading economic panic across the country, how this will affect sales going forward remains to be seen. Many homeowners obviously have bigger priorities right now than building a garden room. But at Howarth, we emphasise the importance of trust with customers and suppliers. We give them the assurance that we offer reasonable cladding prices and quality materials from reputable suppliers, so they will keep returning and our cladding sales will continue to improve.

Consequently, Howarth is optimistic for the future in terms of revenue and sales. We have also recently added AborClad products to our website, from which we hope to see a boost in purchases given current high demand for composite cladding. The range is sustainable and simple to treat, helping meet our customers’ concerns about the environment and making our company and product range still more carbon focused.

We also emphasise that renovation and home improvements have multiple benefits, so when the property market does start to improve, customers’ newly renovated homes will have added value – with our company reaping the benefits of further exponential growth in cladding and timber sales.

Howarth Timber & Building Supplies has long been recognised as a prominent provider of timber cladding to the market, and with our accessible set-up in Dewsbury, we can also sell cladding to other merchants around the country.