Home discomforts

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell reflects on the news that homeowners are taking housebuilders to court over badly built houses.

A news story  that appeared this weekend made for uncomfortable reading.

The main reason why I felt uncomfortable is because I don’t like the construction industry – whichever sector – getting a bad press. It may be down to a sense of loyalty.

That aside, I also don’t think it could be good for the window industry. Windows weren’t specifically mentioned, but installers and fabricators could be tarred with the same brush even though the fault could lie elsewhere.

From what I understand, the margins on windows destined for new build – especially the mass market that Bovis Homes represents – are not particularly big, so if installers or fabricators are repeatedly called back because of problems caused by bad workmanship elsewhere on site, any profits could be lost.

But there’s also the bigger picture. Are these problems caused by a lack of trained builders and specialist contractors? Is this Brexit’s fault, or are we suffering the lack of investment in training that we have been warned about for many years now? We lost a great deal of skilled labour following the credit crunch in 2007 and the subsequent recession, and we are going to have to work hard to attract and train the next generation of construction workers, especially if EU-trained workers are going to be in short supply.

Furthermore, in the rather expansive construction industry, housebuilding is seen as something of a saviour – experiencing growth where other sectors are shrinking, while providing much-needed homes – and the last thing we need is a damaged brand.

Unfortunately, while Bovis is facing the class action law suit, I know of other housebuilders that have sold homes that are riddled with problems, and maybe this move will encourage a similar response from other embittered homeowners.

I would be interested to hear views from people who work in the new-build housing market – your identity will be kept secret if wish.