Surge in new home starts – but are housebuilders building to the right standards?

Sarah White, residential sector manager at British Gypsum explores this question.

The number of new build homes that have started to be built has surged to the highest level since 2008, new figures released by the Government reveal. The latest housebuilding data shows that 164,960 new homes were started in the year to June 2017, up 13% on the previous year. Welcome news for the industry and to potential homeowners, but how do new buyers feel about purchasing one of these new homes?

Well according to a couple of recent independent surveys conducted across homeowners and potential homebuyers on their satisfaction with new build properties, whilst in general new build homes are well regarded, there is an underlying concern regarding quality. It is therefore clear, that more work has to be done by housebuilders and manufacturers to ensure the build quality and service is raised.

The New Homes Review revealed that over 40% of new build homes fail to meet their original deadline and that close to 60% gave a score of seven or above for the standard of finish to the property. With many other problems around snagging and remedial work, the conclusion was that 26% of homeowners expressed dissatisfaction with their builder and suggested that they would not recommend their builder! Whereas buying a new build home is an exciting and attractive prospect for many people, these results mean housebuilders must raise their game to ensure new build homes achieve universal appeal and are not rejected in favour of older properties – particularly in light of the pressing housing stock issue.

As a manufacturer that works closely with housebuilders, British Gypsum know that the opportunity to be the first person to live in the property, superior energy efficiency and having brand new fixtures are seen as the top reasons for choosing a brand new home. However, according to a recent survey we commissioned: Building Better Homes Report – the results of which fall in line with The New Homes Review – new homes are still falling short when it comes to potential buyers’ feelings on ‘flimsy walls’ – with 32% citing this as a reason why they wouldn’t consider buying new.

The perception is that buying a new home can be fraught with difficulties, with hidden costs (39% of respondents) and delays in construction (37%) seen as the main disadvantages, followed by concerns surrounding quality of build (30%).

The most pertinent concerns to British Gypsum, was respondents’ opinions on flimsy walls, which actually ranked highest when we delved into build quality. One in five (20%) said that flimsy walls meant the property didn’t feel solid, and 15% stated they were put off doing simple DIY tasks, such as hanging pictures for fear of them falling to the floor. Along with the frustration associated with DIY, noise travelling between rooms was also mentioned by a third of people as a potential issue.

From this research, it’s clear that there is still more the housebuilder can do to improve the new-build homeowner experience overall – particularly in relation to sound transmission, plasterboard robustness and the ease of which items can be fixed to the walls. Moreover, there are areas of significant opportunity for housebuilders to meet buyer concerns head on and drive a new standard in the sector.

Overall this highlights the real need for housing developers to work in partnership with manufacturers to help meet the required volume of houses without compromising on quality or homeowner satisfaction levels. Indeed, British Gypsum is working closely with a number of housebuilders, helping them to raise the quality of their walls and floors by providing them with innovative solutions – with extremely positive results.

For more information see the work British Gypsum and Cumbrian Homes have carried out: http://www.british-gypsum.com/case-studies/building-better-homes

Both the Building Better Homes Report and information on all the solutions detailed above are available from www.british-gypsum.com/standout