Land availability is the least of the big hurdles facing UK housebuilders in 2021, according to a snapshot poll conducted by LABC Warranty.
The availability of building products and materials is the biggest challenge facing the sector, according to 69% of respondents, followed by access to skilled workers and trades (55%). Obtaining planning permission (29%) is now a bigger concern than finding suitable land (24%).
The poll, completed by more than 1,500 people working in the housebuilding sector, also found an overwhelming majority (83%) will continue to use “standard” brick and block construction methods in the next 12 months, despite the growing interest in modern methods of construction.
Just 16% of respondents said they intended to make use of SIP panel or volumetric “pod” methods, with timber frame (47%) the most popular option away from brick and block.
Air source heat pumps to replace fossil fuel boilers
The poll, conducted as part of LABC Warranty’s publication of the latest version of its technical manual, also revealed housebuilders’ thinking ahead of the Future Homes Standard and the expected ban of fossil fuel-based heating from 2025.
Three-quarters (76%) of respondents said that air source heat pumps would be the most likely alternative heating technology used in new homes. Ground/water-source heat pumps (35%) were the next favoured option, while it was a tie (14%) between heat networks and the use of “green” gas such as hydrogen or biomethane.
LABC Warranty’s Technical Director Sarah Sheppard said the poll reflected challenges arising from the pandemic and the Brexit transition period.
She said, “These factors, coupled with the extra scrutiny building products and materials manufacturers and the testing and accreditation bodies are facing, have all landed at the same time.
“With all these constraints, it’s perhaps not surprising that many house builders feel now is not the time to move away from traditional construction methods, especially as the housing market remains heated and the pressure to build more homes is high.
“Even so, our Technical Services and Innovation Teams are handling more enquiries than ever about construction methods and materials. Home builders are seeking help from LABC Warranty because they see our shared commitment to building quality new homes, whatever the challenges we face.”
The poll results in full
Poll respondents were asked three questions and for each question more than one answer was permitted. Sample size was 1,500 and the poll was conducted from 14th June 2021 to 21st June 2021.