SPECIAL FEATURE: Improving building standards
With house prices at all time highs, consumers are becoming more inquisitive about what it is likely to cost to maintain and operate their new home before making one of the biggest investment decisions of their lives.
Presenting this information in a clear and easy to understand format at the point of sale will empower consumers to make a more informed decision and, perhaps more significantly, it should also help to drive improved building standards for private sale housing.
With the urgent need to boost the UK’s housing stock to meet the ever increasing demand, the industry is under increasing pressure to ensure that building standards remain consistently high.
It is often the case that when the market picks up, developers have less time and capacity to focus on the finer details required to build top quality homes.
We need to produce housing stock that is both sustainable and cost effective if we are to have a long-term solution to this issue. Taking the steps now to publicise the output of properties will help us to address this challenge for the benefit of both the private sale market and the consumer.
The quality of housing stock in the private sale market has historically fallen behind that of rental properties, which have been built with durability and sustainability at the front of mind.
Developers of rental properties tend to invest heavily at the outset to ensure longevity and ROI for their assets because they have a long term interest in how the building will perform over time.
With the government’s push for an increase in build to rent properties, more quality homes are going to be available to rent and the private sale market needs to get its act together to keep up.
The homebuilding industry currently lags far behind others in providing aspiring homeowners with additional data about the output of the property at the point of sale, as occurs in the car industry for example. What is urgently needed is a standard labelling system for both new and existing homes.
This should reveal the quality and performance of the property through metrics such as space and energy performance, in a way that can be clearly understood by consumers.
One initiative taking significant strides towards labelling the housing product is the Housing Forum’s Home Performance Labelling Pilot. It is a win-win situation for the consumer who should benefit from both improved choice and better building quality.
It is also another step in the right direction for ensuring the building standards for private sale housing remain high at this crucial stage of the housebuilding boom.