The Brick Development Association (BDA) has called for a lifetime guarantee to be offered on newbuild homes, after reports that government ministers are planning to tackle the housing shortage by funding prefabricated homes
According to reports, Ministers are planning to meet their target of providing one million new homes by 2020 by funding the production of prefabricated homes, which are then delivered to building sites, cancelling much of the subcontracting and speeding up the build process.
Prefabrication advocates claim that the process offers benefits such as speed and cost compared with traditional masonry builds. However, the BDA is asking whether the issue of sustainability has been taken into consideration?
Over 39% of UK housing is over 65 years old and the BDA believes that tackling the housing shortage with newbuild homes that suggest an acceptable lifespan of just 50 years does not satisfy demand in the long term.
Keith Aldis, chief executive officer of the BDA, said: "We urgently need new housing to cope with a growing population. All construction uses resources, but surely the less often buildings are replaced the better. It is not a sustainable approach to accept that new buildings could need replacing after just 50 years.
"Our focus must be on building sound structures that will last several lifespans and we know from history that brick built housing boasts excellent longevity. Brick buildings are the ultimate demonstration of a circular economy. The robust and durable nature of brick allows homes to withstand the rigours of a number of different families over time, providing the housebuilder and occupier reassurance of both a solid structure and investment.
"Therefore, the Brick Development Association would like to call on the government to address the issue and offer lifespan guarantees for newbuild homes to meet the long-term needs of our population, not just a quick fix."
Mr Aldis continued: "Re-openings and development of new brick plants are an incredibly positive sign in the revitalisation of the housebuilding sector. When the volume of new housebuilding starts to grow closer to the 200,000 a year target, I am positive brick manufacturers have the capacity to increase production. The BDA would welcome government initiatives to use the resources in which our members have invested."
Housing Minister Gavin Barwell was recently reported as urging grandparents to leave their estates to their grandchildren, assisting the next generation onto the property ladder. But without sustainably built homes that can withstand multiple owners or tenants, the houses to be passed down will not be fit for this purpose.
The most recent statistics from the National House Building Council (NHBC) housebuilders survey, regarding modern methods of construction, show that masonry construction continues to account for the majority of new residential build and the proportion has remained fairly constant over the last eight years.
Indeed, money and time are two often-cited reasons for turning to prefabrication to help address the housing shortage. However, the BDA said a 'quick fix' approach feeds the psyche of a throw away culture and risks leading to environmental degradation and wasteful economics.