It’s tempting to reduce the housing crisis to numbers: 340,000 is the number of new homes that the National Housing Federation estimates the UK needs to build every year if it is to keep up with the huge demand for suitable living conditions.
If we take a step back to look at the housing crisis more holistically, however, it becomes clear that the issue is more than simply ramping up the rate of housebuilding – although this naturally remains a top priority. In addition to this, there is a glaring need to understand and resolve the negative preconceptions surrounding new developments.
Design and the needs of consumers need to be included within the housing debate.
What do the housing statistics tell us?
“At FJP Investment, we were keen to get to the bottom of the underlying issues that are shaping negative public perceptions of new-builds,” says Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment. “Having surveyed over 1,000 UK homebuyers and property investors, our research revealed a plethora of concerns that will need to be addressed if we are to bridge the housing gap.”
Chief amongst them is the attractiveness of new-builds: half of people think that new-builds are typically unattractive, and even more (63%) think they are “devoid of character”. Moreover, FJP Investment found that three-fifths (60%) of people worry that new-build houses and flats are often finished to a poor standard.
These statistics should serve as a red flag to the industry, and embolden builders to focus not just on numbers, but also developing properties that are desirable.
How do we increase the attractiveness of new builds?
Naturally, the government must take the lead when it comes to reforming the aesthetic of new-builds. Indeed, we are already seeing signs that progress is to be made in this space; on 27 July 2019, in his first speech on domestic policy as prime minister, Boris Johnson voiced his commitment to “emphasiz[ing] the need, the duty, to build beautiful homes that people actually want to live in.”
This can only be achieved through a close partnership between developers, local councils, and the wider government.
Practical steps include investing in, and supporting, schemes which offer protections to homebuyers. After all, homebuyers shouldn’t have to face a trade-off between a modern home and one that is finished to a high standard. NHBC Buildmark, for instance, is a 10-year warranty that is designed to protect a home from damage caused where the property has not been built to required standards. Such insurance serves to reassure homebuyers that problems they might face as a result of quality issues will be remedied.
At the same time, working with the local authority building control will ensure that each stage of development meets general building regulation standards, thereby preventing major structural or safety problems from escalating later down the line.
“On this note, I would like to see a stronger partnership between the private and public sectors,” says Johnson. “Closer collaboration between developers and councils is needed to ensure not only that enough homes are being built to meet demand, but that they are being built in the right places, and at the right prices. Ultimately, they must serve the needs of the local areas and match consumer’s preferences for the types of properties that they want to see built in their surroundings.”
Developers need to commit to constructing new buildings that are constructed to the best possible standards, and the government must support them in these efforts. At the end of the day, if the UK hopes to tackle the housing crisis, it must focus on quality as well as quantity.
Our thanks to Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment. www.fjpinvestment.co.uk