Bye-bye bricks?

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell wonders if we are seeing the beginning of the end for traditionally built homes.

Two stories that sit (un)comfortably side-by-side this week concern new-build homes.

On the one hand we have the announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) the homebuyers buying new homes will be protected by a new, independent ombudsman.

And on the other, we recently learned that the new village of Inholm, which will be the largest in the UK to be manufactured offsite using modern volumetric construction, has been given the go-ahead by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Planning Committee.

Both are significant stories, if only because the drive to build more homes was a key battleground in the recent election.

However, in the drive to build more homes, and with the construction industry suffering from a skills crisis that could be worsened following Brexit, quality could drop significantly. New-build homes are already blighted by bad publicity, and we really don’t want it to get any worse.

The ombudsman, if it has real teeth, is a great idea. Arguably, though, it is rather late, especially when you read new that a new village of 406 homes will be built in a factory.
I’m sure that they will come under the scrutiny of the New Homes Ombudsman like the traditionally built homes, but by being assembled off site, any issues can be addressed before they are erected.

Ian Killick, director at shedkm, said: “We’re working with a great team and have high hopes of creating an exemplar neighbourhood that sets a new benchmark for the use of modern methods of construction.”

Cost will ultimately play a part in the new home-buying decision making process, but finding your new home riddled with problems must be soul destroying. Therefore, will people turn to off-site constructed homes to avoid this?

And for the property developer, having to manage numerous disputes on top of falling popularity could signal the beginning of the end for the brick-and-mortar approach to housebuilding as they also turn to offsite construction.

What does this mean for window fabricators targeting the new-build market? Well, I imagine delivering standard-size windows and doors to a factory, rather than to site, is extremely appealing. However, I’d be interested to hear your views.