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BSRIA Residential Network event: Building Better Homes Faster - snippetsJanuary 2018


Tassos Kougionis - Principal Consultant – Residential, Sustainable Construction Group
Following up from the success of our first Building Better Homes Faster event that took place in July 2017 - BSRIA is delighted to announce the second part of our journey into the world of increased new homes delivery. Improving the image of the industry and being resilient in an uncertain future were the key messages.

BSRIA’s Building Better Homes Faster 2 event is taking place on Friday 12th January 2018

This snippet version of the Building Better Homes Faster 1 event aims to provide you with some of the event’s highlights.

Tassos Kougionis, Principal Consultant for Residential (BSRIA Chair)

Tassos discussed economic and technical challenges present in the housing construction sector which lead to a fragmented supply chain and difficulties in the new homes delivery.

He called for a more consistent and collaborative approach between the different stakeholders and an open dialogue. He added that this event series can provide the industry with a communication platform.

Paul Decort, Technical Policy Officer at the Department for Communities and Local Governments (DCLG)

Paul provided the attendees with a DCLG update. He discussed the potential effect of Brexit on the construction and housing sectors of the country as well as the need for a healthy and safe environment (triggered by the recent tragic event at Grenfell Tower).

He said that until the UK leaves the EU, the EU Buildings Directives will need to be respected. These include provisions for high energy efficiency and construction standards.

Paul discussed housing “unaffordability” which remains a big issue. As highlighted younger individuals face challenges when it comes to property ownership and statistics reveal that “by 2020 only 25 per cent of 30 year olds will own their own home”.

As far as new homes construction rates are concerned Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) were referred to as a critical aspect in increased construction delivery, but accelerated construction “needs to go hand to hand with increased construction quality”.

John Slaughter, Director of External Affairs at the Home Builders Federation

John looked at skills, knowledge and the supply chain and stated that skills are the biggest issue facing the house building industry. HBF research highlighted that “industry image” and “difficulty of attracting the right people” were key concerns for the industry.

He also discussed difficulties of promoting training and skills through the supply chain; lack of the right support and lack of “fit for purpose” home building specific training. John said that there was a “raft of other changes affecting the training and skills landscape and industry desperately needed more skilled people”.

John said that industry remains fragmented with 80-85 per cent of the site workforce being indirectly employed. A partnership could bring the industry together to meet the needs and explore the opportunities but we need to “leverage investment from CITB and other partners to meet identified needs”.

John explained how the Home Building Skills Partnership was created setting objectives for 2016-2020 to assist that. 

He finished off by saying that in findings from a sample survey of 40 house builders put “securing sub-contractors” as one of the biggest problems.

Oliver Novakovic, Technical & Innovation Director at Barratt Developments PLC

Oliver asked the audience: “how do you innovate?”. He then discussed how Barratt Homes considers new technologies, off-site manufacturing and digital means to achieve high construction quality and accelerate their new homes delivery pace.

Oliver said: “the first thing to do is you must find your friends fast within the supply chain especially those who can change”. There is often friction with sub-contractors so one must choose their battles wisely.

Leading construction should follow particular steps to deliver the required targets. These could include short-term: construction components; medium-term: panelised and pods; long-term: advanced off-site and BIM; key outcome: future proofing; agility for our divisions; and continual improvement on quality, cost and speed.

Oliver provided additional information on how Barratt Homes follow these steps, showing tangible examples and case-study sites.

In terms of BIM he discussed its merits and some of the challenges they faced when trying to implement it. He said: “One needs the right information in the right place. With 300+ sites and 15,000+ drawing ensuring consistency in specification is critical.” He also provided examples of how they have used 3D modelling and said “the future is not 2D”.

Chris Carr, Managing Director at Carr & Carr Builders Ltd

Chris presented on the role of SMEs in increasing new homes delivery and overcoming construction challenges. He said: “The number of developers has shrunk by half in 10 years. Only 23 per cent of new homes are now built by SMEs – which are considered a high-risk sector.”

Chris said that for a number of people housing development isn’t seen as a good career move – often seen as a last resort. Why? Because of a lack of development finance to smaller developers; a shortage of materials; potential short of labour – caused in part by Brexit; and a lack of smaller development sites.

He discussed how industry should be especially concerned by the aging workforce. He added that the industry would benefit from a more diversified workforce in terms of gender, skills and backgrounds.

As Chris pointed out it is critical that industry bodies like the CITB work with schools to encourage future workforce entering the industry.

Chris asked: “so how do we stop the decline?”. He discussed schemes and incentives such as The Homes and Communities Agency Builders Finance Fund and Help to Buy.

He also said that we need new UK based construction manufacturers and that we need to try making construction industry more “attractive”.

Chris Pountney, Associate Director at AECOM

Chris discussed resilience in construction design, delivery and operation. He explained how global targets focus in reducing the number of people affected by disasters and associated economic loss.

He explained how global indicators are used to assess impact in terms of lack of resilient construction, and presented the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities launched in May 2017.

Chris said: “urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience”.

He discussed the impact of flooding and heatwaves and how this needs to be addressed through appropriate design. Specifically regarding heatwaves he stated – resilience falls into two categories: strategic (before hot weather and disasters) and operational (during hot weather and disasters).

Chris explained that according to 100 Resilient Cities nearly all strategies include actions for housing including making strategic investments for liveable neighbourhoods.

For spatial mapping and co-occurrence of hazards – there are four steps: identify and categorise risk factors-consider practical measures; map environmental drivers; overlap risk factors and apply local knowledge.

Chris said that many new or refurbished homes have designs that may contribute to a risk for overheating including: high proportions of glazing; inadequate natural ventilation strategies and poorly performing mechanical ventilation systems.

Finally Chris discussed smart technology and the IoT (Internet of Things) and how such tools can be used to put systems in place so that the UK is more resilient. Homes for the future need to be: ready for uncertainty; data-driven and digitally-enabled.

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