The Government wants and needs to build a lot more new homes so the quickly growing population has somewhere to spread out into. That’s fine, I don’t think anyone can say that this doesn’t need to happen. But what is concerning me is the quality to which these new houses are being built. They’re not being built to last, at least that’s how it looks to me.
Built for long term maintenance
There is a new housing estate being built near where I used to live which is huge. I think they’re building about 3000 new homes in various stages over the next few years. Phase 1 I think is just about completed, and it really has gone up in no time. Whilst it’s impressive to observe something like that, you have to question how long before that new house has to start having remedial work done.
Lets take a look at this from an industry angle. If a company like Persimmon or Redrow is about to build 1000 new homes, what window and door are they going to use? Would they find a high quality supplier and ensure that their new homes are fitted with windows and doors that are good to last at least 30 years? No, they won’t. Even though it’s a better way to go about it, it costs more, therefore eating into their profit margins. So they’ll go for a cheaper alternative that just scrapes past the required building regs and energy ratings. Leaving the homeowner probably about ten years maximum before they have to fork out for replacements. My concern is that the same logic is being applied to other parts of the construction of the house.
Short term shortcuts leads to long term expense
The problem with mass new build housing right now is that they are being built with an almost short term perspective, leading to potentially mass renovations a decade down the line. When homeowners buy a new house, they probably think it will mean little to no work to be done on the house. Well, they way we’re building right them now, or rather, throwing them up right now, they’re going to be in for a shock.
Look further afield into Europe however and things are a little different. Countries like Germany, Austria and the Scandinavian regions have long opted for a “fabric first” approach when it comes to construction. That means everything from the windows, roofing, wall materials etc and built to much better standard than in comparison to here. In the end, that leads to a better built building, requiring less work in the long term, probably working out cheaper for the homeowner in the long run too. Certainly less stressful!
I guess the silver lining to all of this however is that it keeps the flow of business going for replacement companies like window and door installers for example. Everyone needs windows and doors, so if the houses being built now will need them replacing in a decade or less, isn’t that a good thing? Am I digging my own hole here or should we be building our homes to a better standard from the starts?