Brian Kilroy is a business development manager at BLP Insurance
It’s no secret that the housebuilding sector has been going through a bit of a recovery boost and in December the Office of National Statistics reported a two per cent rise in activity to the UK construction industry, with funding for development starting to flow again.
This is a big step in the right direction but there are still a number of obstacles threatening the road to recovery in the long-term.
As the market picks up pace, the industry is under increased pressure to ensure that building standards remain consistently high.
The pressure to build quickly can be a real test of build quality standards. When the market was down, with less productivity, there was more emphasis on building top quality homes with more time for developers to focus on the details.
We urgently need to provide additional homes to meet the ever increasing demand for property in the UK, but producing housing stock that is not sustainable and cost effective will not provide a long-term solution to the problem.
Reduced margins as a result of shortages of labour and building materials will also see some developers opting for cheaper insurance options, regardless of the gaps in their cover. This will often result in heavy costs for homeowners in the future.
Another key issue currently facing housebuilders is the availability of suitable land to build on. This shortage has been compounded by land owners who are either waiting for the market to pick up to boost their land price or over estimating its true value.
We welcome the government’s initiative to enable communities to improve their local area by giving them the right to ask that under-used or unused land owned by Public Bodies be brought back into use. This is positive news for developers who are struggling to find land in prime areas.
In order to future proof the recovery of the housing market the government needs to continue making the right noises and support developers efforts to get easier access to land and the subsequent planning approval needed to build more homes.
But at the same time, more needs to be done to ensure that young people coming into the sector have the right training and skills to support the industry and ensure that high standards are maintained. It’s a difficult balance but a vital one if we are going to ensure that the recovery in the housebuilding market is long-term.