In the UK we currently have…
- An estimated shortfall of 1 million houses
- 3 million 20 to 34 year olds living with parents
- 4 million people on the social housing list
- 1 trillion in housing equity held by people in retirement
- The average 27-year-old earning less today than 25 years ago – allowing for cost of living increases
Something must give – but what?
In 2015, 150000 new homes were built and 20000 offices were converted to residential properties. At the same time 275,000 building plots were approved. It’s expected that within two years, the building of new homes will break the 200000 per year barrier. That’s a few baby steps in the right direction, isn’t it?
The government has pledged £3 billion to a Home Builders’ Fund, which will provide loans to galvanise the housing industry. A further £2 billion is promised to an Accelerated Construction Scheme which makes public land with planning permission available to builders. They are also pursuing an Urban Regeneration initiative which is looking at the release of brownfield sites as well as speeding up the office to residential boom by granting more permissions. More baby steps…
The trouble is that, following the 2008 crash we have lost many of the skilled tradesmen involved in the housing industry and currently we rely on sourcing tradesmen from EU countries to fill the skills void. With the Brexit button looming, can we rely on this source of skilled labour? We certainly can’t train enough home-grown talent in the short term to meet demand. Baby trips up…
The insensitively-titled – Last Time Buyers
In Europe, Australia and America there are various house building programmes specifically for people in retirement. It gives them the option to downsize into something that better suits their needs whilst releasing equity they may have tied in the current property. A further upside is that it releases housing stock back into the market. Such a programme is currently being considered in the UK which is cheering news for an ageing population.
Starter Homes – Will they or wont they ?
For some time now plans have been in place for a starter home programme where first time buyers receive a 20% discount on their chosen purchase. There will obviously be limitations which could be that:
- Applicants must be under 40
- Property value is limited to £450000 in London and £250000 elsewhere.
Hopefully, Philip Hammond will have news of this in his Autumn Statement but, as I said, this project has been on the cards for some time so, don’t hold your breath.
Currently the standard way of doing things is labour-intensive, slow, and faces a shortage in both skilled labour and materials. A new approach to traditional house building must be sought. Urgently. Whether it’s modular housing, light steel frame construction, large panel construction or custom build, we need to have a way of delivering highly efficient, quality homes of a style that people want to live in.
With massive demand, we need to be embracing new technologies to solve this chronic need. You never know, the reduction in build costs may see these new, modern houses being offered at a lower cost than traditionally-built houses. After all they involve less labour and promise to be more efficiently built…oh, sorry must have slipped into an alternative world where profit over the good of humanity wasn’t an issue…