Home improvements underpinning construction recovery, says FMB

Private home maintenance and repair work increased by 35.% in the three months to August, according to ONS construction output data. This rise is a major contribut the recovery of the construction industry, but there is further to go says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The ONS data is backed up by the FMB’s own State of Trade Survey which tracks the experience of small to medium-sized firms in the building industry. 

This research showed that almost half of builders (47%) reported increased workloads in the summer months, and almost as many (42%) predict higher workloads in the autumn. More than three quarters (78%) of builders said they expect material costs to increase over the next two months. 

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “A busy summer of home upgrades has been a welcome boost for the building industry but growing concerns about the strength of the economy might affect consumer confidence. The latest State of Trade data from the FMB shows that 4 in 5 builders are predicting material costs to increase in the months ahead. Given growing Brexit concerns it will be important that the Government works with the industry to ensure that supply chains aren’t disrupted. Any future delays and increase in costs would impact on the scope for the industry to ‘build, build, build’ our way to recovery.”

14 October 2020

Green homes grant launched

The launch of the Green Homes Grant Scheme is a first step to creating greener, more energy efficient homes but a long term strategy is needed if the country’s 28 million homes are to be retrofitted, says the Federation of Master Builders.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The launch of the Green Homes Grant Scheme represents the first step in the ‘build back greener’ agenda but the Government needs to commit to a long-term retrofit strategy if it is serious about achieving its zero carbon target by 2050. Eighty-five per cent of our existing homes will still be standing in 2050 which is why it is very important that we makes our homes more energy efficient.”

“The FMB is working with organisations across the construction sector to develop an energy and water efficiency retrofit strategy for the nation’s homes,” Berry said. “The coalition – formed under the umbrella of the Construction Leadership Council – stands ready to provide an oven-ready blueprint for Government to take forward.”

Homeowners in England, including landlords, can get up to £5,000 to pay up to two-thirds of the cost of energy saving measures like insulation. Low income households can get 100 per cent of the costs of work covered up to £10,000.

Payments in the form of vouchers must be used to install at least one primary home insulation or low carbon heating measure. If one of these is installed, the voucher can be used to help cover secondary measures costs up to the value of the primary installations.

Primary measures include insulation for:

  • solid walls
  • under floors
  • cavity walls
  • lofts
  • flat or pitched roofs
  • rooms in roof
  • insulating a park home.

Low carbon heat measures, including heat pump, solar thermal and biomass boiler installations are also considered primary measures.

Secondary measures include:

  • Draught proofing
  • Double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazed windows)
  • Secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
  • External energy efficient doors (replacing single-glazed or solid doors installed before 2002)
  • Heating controls
  • Hot water tank thermostats and insulation.
30 September 2020


2020 Stirling Prize cancelled

This year’s Stirling Prize, the architectural equivalent of the Booker Prize, is the latest ceremony to fall victim to Covid-19 with the RIBA confirming it will not take place this year. It had been due to take place later this autumn.

Last year's Stirling Prize winner, Goldsmith Street in Norfolk by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley. 

The prize, which recognises the outstanding building designed by a RIBA member, was won last year by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley for the Goldsmith Street housing scheme in Norwich.

The RIBA said it had been forced to postpone the event, because the ongoing pandemic meant judges were not able to get around and visit the 226 projects that have been shortlisted for a regional award.

A spokesperson said: “To maintain the consistency and rigour of our judging process, all RIBA Award-winning projects must be visited in person, therefore it is unfortunately not possible to continue with this year’s awards.”

She confirmed the RIBA would not be holding two Stirling events next year to cover projects due to have been judged this year.

“All projects which have already been shortlisted for a 2020 RIBA Regional Award will be included in our 2021 RIBA Awards, which will open for entries shortly,” she said.

30 September 2020


First female FMB president appointed

The Federation of Master Builders has elected its first female national president. Jan Etchells, of Syntonic Kitchen Technicians and a long-term member of the FMB’s London Board, takes over from Arthur McArdle of Woodfield Building Services. 

21 September 2020


Housing formula will favour south – LGA

Government plans to use algorithms to set how many new homes need to be built in local areas will lead to a housing boom in the south and fewer new homes in the north, councils have warned.

The Local Government Association said the new formula would see a stark variation in where new homes are required to be built without regard for the wider levelling-up agenda.

Analysis of the new government formula shows that the highest percentage increase in new homes growth will be expected in the Midlands and the south, with lower growth rates in northern regions.

The new methodology will also disproportionately impact on rural rather than urban areas. Some of the most rural places in England will see a requirement for a 59 per cent increase in homes, compared to a 20 per cent increase in major urban areas.

Under the new national targets, London will expect to see a 161 per cent increase in housing, with a 57 per cent increase in the south east and 39 per cent in the south west.

In comparison, proposed housing targets for the north east are 28 per cent lower than existing delivery, eight per cent lower in the north west and six per cent lower in Yorkshire and Humberside.

“Under these plans, some parts of the country will have to ramp up housebuilding with existing targets doubled. Others, mainly cities in the north, will be told they need to build less, which risks reducing the number of homes they had earmarked for development and bulldozing their current housebuilding plans,” said LGA housing spokesperson David Renard. 

Algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge and decision-making by councils and communities who know their areas best.” he said.

17 September 2020


Homebuyers struggle to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday

A new survey of UK homeowners and buyers has revealed that, while more than half want to take advantage of the government’s Stamp Duty holiday, almost a third have been denied a mortgage. 

The survey, carried out on behalf of bridging lender Market Financial Solutions, also showed that 43% of people who bought or attempted to buy a property in 2020 encountered significant delays or complications when applying or a mortgage.

The government announced the Stamp Duty changes in July which mean that tax is not payable on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland until March 31, 2021. 

MFS research also showed that 36% of UK adults planning to buy a property in the next year are likely to consider alternative finance options like bridging loans. 

Paresh Raja, CEO of MFS, said the Stamp Duty holiday had sparked activity among buyers and sellers but many prospective homebuyers were unable to take advantage of this initiative.

“Many banks are treading carefully and, as a result, applications are taking longer to process. There is also a higher chance of an application being rejected. This is putting property chains at risk of collapsing,” Raja said.

“It is important that lenders keep lending to ensure buyers have access to the finance needed to complete on a purchase. Failing this, the Stamp Duty holiday will only have a limited effect.”

16 September 2020