Friday, 20 November 2015

"The long term rush to build new homes" >>> "Numbers and profit are regarded as more important than quality."

We can debate the 'need' to build new homes:
Futures Forum: Housing myths and housing numbers
Futures Forum: Identifying housing 'need'
Futures Forum: Identifying housing 'need' in East Devon: "Floodgates are open for developers"

We need to build more houses

26 Sep 2015

In addressing the housing crisis policy makers will have to step on a few toes, argues Claudia Wood. Being squeamish about building houses is no longer an option.

‘We need to build more houses’ has become one of the great policy platitudes of recent years. Trotted out by politicians of all hues, declared frequently during the run up to the general election, the government was voted in on a manifesto pledge to build 200,000 new homes, extend right to buy and redevelop brownfield. Jeremy Corbyn is now leading the Opposition on a pledge to remove borrowing restrictions on councils so they can build new housing, and creating a National Investment Bank to lend to them (with money taken from the £93 billion of corporate tax breaks currently on offer).

Despite their differing approaches, these steps sound promising – we’re finally taking the housing crisis seriously. Or are we? Let’s remind ourselves of the scale of the problem. The latest estimates using the 2011 census have found we need to build 245,000 houses per year to meet population growth. The last time we built that many houses was in 1979. Last year – which the Government lauded as the most successful year for new houses since 2008 – we built just 140,000 new homes. We’ve been 100,000 houses short of housing need for seven years now – and apart from a spell in the boom years of the early 2000s we’ve been under-building for decades, with spiralling rents and housing poverty the result.

The government’s ‘big pledge’ of 200,000 new homes for first time buyers over the five years of this parliament represents less than one year’s requirement. Unused brownfield land can provide space for another 200,000. Then there’s the government’s flagship housing policy – Ebbsfleet garden village, a policy announcement so good they made it twice. In 2012, there was a promise of 22,000 houses, which failed to be built; and then again in the 2014 Budget a more modest 15,000 houses was pledged. So now we just need 16 new Ebbsfleet villages built every year, and we’re sorted.

We need to build more houses - Demos Quarterly
The homes we need

However, it might be a question of never mind the quality: feel the width:
Futures Forum: The Carbuncle Cup Prize for East Devon's new buildings 

As seen on TV:

Britain’s Nightmare New Homes: Dispatches

Monday 16 November, 8pm, Channel 4

Kicking against the bricks: the government has pledged to tackle the UK’s housing shortage by building a million new homes in five years. But in the sprint to achieve such headline-friendly targets, are property developers focusing on short-term solutions, throwing up slapdash housing that will barely last years, let alone decades? Seyi Rhodes pulls on a hard hat to cast a sceptical surveyor’s eye over recent developments. Graeme Virtue

Monday’s best TV – Britain’s Nightmare New Homes: Dispatches | Television & radio | The Guardian

Channel Four took us to the amount of bad workmanship in new housing:

Government wants a million new houses built but what kind of homes will they really be?

Dispatches - Britain's Nightmare New Homes - All 4

The house-building industry has taken note:

House-builders take a hammering from TV programme

Never buy a new home that has been finished in the months of May, June, November or December.

17 Nov 2015

Above: Repairing a new home after occupants have moved in

That was the takeaway message of a Channel 4 Dispatches television report last night (16 Nov 2015) that exposed the shoddy quality of Britain’s house-builders and their unresponsive foot-dragging in the face of valid complaints from customers who have staked their live-savings on a dream home only to see that dream turn sour.

‘Britain’s nightmare new homes’ interviewed several dissatisfied new home-owners. One had bought a new home from Morris only to find 140 defects. A Bovis customer found mould in her wardrobes within weeks of moving in because the house had been built in a wet winter.

But it was Taylor Wimpey that came out the worst when it came to absence of quality control. One couple were left shivering every night because the builders had forgotten, or not bothered, to put in loft insulation (see picture below). Another couple had no cavity wall insulation. Yet both homes were signed off and certified as highly energy efficient when clearly they were not, as later confirmed by thermal imaging tests.

Taylor Wimpey’s customer service also came under fire. “Everything takes so long… everything’s a fight,” said a customer of his fight to get Taylor Wimpey to take any responsibility for its shortcomings and correct faults.

The National House-Building Council, whose warranty scheme is designed to provide reassurance for new home buyers, got off relatively lightly, telling the programme that it checks every new home at five or six stages. It escaped further analysis of why there were so many problems then.

Building inspectors also absolved themselves of any responsibility due to self-certification.

Wisest words came from retired site manager Philip Waller who told the programme about the financial pressures that sites were under when publicly quoted house-building companies are approaching the time to report their annual or half-year financial results. This means that in May, June, November and December the rush is on to get units finished quickly and this is when short cuts were most likely to be taken, he said.

House-builders take a hammering from TV programme

And the same concerns are being expressed elsewhere:
The Lost Recovery: Just this once, let us resist the Siren's call to build houses in a rush - we have options - Independent.ie

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