From labour shortages to sustainable construction, we round up the main challenges and opportunities faced by home builders this year.
In the wake of Brexit and amid ongoing challenges due to COVID-19, home builders face some significant challenges – but they also have opportunities to embrace new, sustainable and energy efficient construction methods, create exciting new developments away from cities, and harness digital technology. Here’s our view on the current landscape.
Labour shortages –
There is great demand for new homes, but construction firms are struggling to find the labour, due to skills shortages and a lack of overseas workers. As a result, wages are soaring. The problem is likely to be amplified by the fact that the construction industry has an ageing workforce, with 22 percent of employees aged between 51 and 60.
Withdrawal of government support to the housing market –
The end of furlough and the end of the stamp duty holiday are expected to slow the expansion of the housing market, but this slowdown is likely to be short lived.
Cost and shortage of materials –
The price of building materials soared in August as the UK was hit by global shortages – and this is preventing home builders from taking on new work. Not only are materials scarce – contractors are also being hit by delays in delivery thanks to a lack of transport and congestion at ports resulting from Brexit and COVID-19.
New regulations for home builders –
Following complaints about build quality, the government is bringing in new regulations – notably the New Homes Ombudsman, which aims to drive higher standards. Meanwhile, the “Golden Thread” will require the storage and easy availability of accurate, up to date records on the design, construction and safety measures for “high risk residential buildings”. Introduced as a result of the Grenfell Tower disaster, it aims to prevent dangerous mistakes being made because this vital information has been lost.
Sustainability standards –
According to the Committee on Climate Change, two fifths of carbon emissions in the UK come from the country’s housing stock. The pressure on developers to create energy efficient homes is set to increase; the government aims to bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and with this comes extra costs.
Government support –
Announcing the “New Deal” for Britain in June, Boris Johnson specifically highlighted the building of homes as a priority. He also placed an emphasis on infrastructure, which could open up new areas for development.
New markets –
With the rise in home working, people want homes that can accommodate this – and they’re also looking to buy homes in new locations away from commuter belts. This is likely to drive new developments in areas that were previously less desirable.
Digital developments –
CGIs and fly through animations enable developers to bring their vision to life, presenting a compelling picture of the development before it’s been built. The digital revolution also enables developers to manage projects more efficiently, standardise processes and record key information and make it readily available.
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