Gavin Smart, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), used his opening remarks at their Housing 2022 event to lay out the challenges facing the building industry.

From his remarks, we can infer where the big priorities lie for the housing sector in the immediate future.

CIH set out key areas for housing at annual conference

On the agenda

According to Smart, contemporary issues like the cost of living crisis and inflation are compounding the legacies of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, with a host of knock-on effects to the building industry.

While the cost of living crisis will have significant effects on existing tenant’s ability to pay rent and heat their homes, inflation is affecting new homes as well.
Construction materials, already affected by supply chain problem, surge ever-upwards in price, threatening more project starts.

The building trade is also struggling to source enough skilled workers to fulfil all the roles on their projects – some in the industry are already suggesting that procuring appropriately skilled labour will be a bigger problem than materials in 2023.

 

In challenge there is opportunity

While chief executive Gavin Smart was clear about the scale of the difficulties facing the industry, the issues are not without opportunities to act.

A need to accelerate the creation of new housing means a closer look at re-invigorating the UK’s enthusiasm for Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Embracing MMC might also let us alleviate some of the effects of a labour shortage, by centralising some specialist fabrication skills in off-site factories.

Embracing MMC would also make it easier to create a supply of more affordable, better-insulated, energy-efficient homes, driving down the stresses in the private and social housing sectors as the cost of heating homes rises.

 

Climate notable by its absence

Walking the floor of Housing 2022, or looking at the agenda for many of the speaking events, climate change and the environment are unavoidable topics.
There are a swathe of “eco” and “enviro” brand names, and no shortage of speaking slots exploring the challenges (and opportunities) that the housing sector faces on the UK’s road to achieving net-zero.

The environment was largely absent from Smart’s keynote address, which was understandably focused on the here-and-now issues of inflation, costs, and labour and material shortages that make focusing on seemingly distant net-zero goals more difficult.

However, the subject is present in the solutions discussed to easing the issues presented. From better energy efficiency to embracing to making better use of MMC and innovative technologies, an industry that better serves residents can also better serve the environment.

 

The silver lining for home builders

While the housing and home-building industry faces many difficulties in the near-future, there is a clear consensus on one thing – the UK needs more homes.
Reflected not just in Gavin Smart’s address but other speakers across Housing 2022, there is a clear consensus that the UK needs to build more housing and build it faster.

The potential return of right-to-buy could compound that need, as homes disappear from the social housing stock and move into private hands, reducing an already-stressed resource in high demand. At the very least, to maintain the social housing stock at its current level, every home sold would have to be replaced on a like-for-like basis.

‘Levelling up’ the country means creating more secure, decent, and affordable homes, there are few solutions to the challenges facing the nation’s housing situation that don’t involve building more of it.

How those challenges will play out and be addressed may be unclear for the present, but home builders have their part to play.

Subscribe to our blog for the latest news

Get the latest news from LABC Warranty and the construction structural warranty sector by subscribing to our blog.
Subscribe to receive the latest news

Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty Technical Manual.

Related Articles

Housing heavyweights outline challenges for the future

A panel of speakers from the housing industry outline the challenges facing the industry, now and into the immediate future.
Read More

Explosion of self-build demand shows appetite for efficient homes and MMC

As self-build demand goes up, we can see that half of self-builders are opting to incorporate energy-efficient technology and...
Read More

Have your say

Tell us what you think about this article and its contents by completing the form.