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Building Better Homes Faster 2 - event reviewJune 2018

Written by Clair Prosser, Press Officer, BSRIA

The residential network event took place earlier this year. Key messages included: culture, challenges and clarity (3Cs).


Tassos Kougionis, Principal Consultant for Residential, BSRIA
Tassos took the stage and discussed current housing construction challenges and opportunities. Main areas of focus included increased delivery, quality and the robustness of the supply chain. With a Government’s aim to increase housing supply to 300,000 new homes per year, Tassos argued that industry must enter a new era of technology, data collection and advanced standards. Maintaining high standards is critical to safe guarding the health and well-being of the occupants, as well as to achieving a good reputation for new homes, he said.

Healthy

Marylis Ramos, Director of Development Consultancy, PRP Architects, presented on new home design trends looking at three key areas – physical health, mental wellbeing and social relationships.

“Healthy is the new sustainable!” PRP Architects has carried out research on new home trends and how technology can impact the housing sector. One crucial area identified was health and wellbeing. The research found that physical health was connected to sunlight, colours and home design and the provision of green space. The latter specifically improves mental health and vitality, elevating mood, improving concentration and focus, promoting serenity and relaxation: reducing stress and anxiety.

The optimisation of space, providing places for children to play, offering office space and creating communal areas, should be key considerations in new developments. PRP also found that the factors that most negatively affect physical health in home are indoor air quality, poor thermal comfort, noise and overcrowding. Links were identified between factors such as dust mites, moisture, poor ventilation and allergies, mental illness and compromised sleep quality.

Regeneration

Pennie Brown, Sustainability Lead, East Hampshire District Council and Havant Borough Council.


Pennie Brown, Sustainability Lead, East Hampshire District Council and Havant Borough Council
Pennie presented findings from Whitehill and Bordon new town. The town was historically an army town with 14,000 residents, 46 miles from London, but the army left in 2015. The council is planning to regenerate the area into a “Green” and “Healthy” new_town.

The newly formed Whitehill and Bordon Regeneration Company led to 3,000 jobs being created and supported tackling construction skills gap. Builders are “being challenged to deliver advanced standards and high quality”. The revamp will incorporate a new town centre, secondary school, leisure centre and skate park. The green space around the town will be safeguarded. In particular, the new Quebec Park housing development, part of Whitehill and Bordon, is a national exemplar of Zero Carbon Homes. One hundred new energy efficient homes are expected to deliver a comfortable and sustainable living, offering low energy bills and producing at least 45 per cent less carbon emission compared to building regulations limits. Higher water efficiency standards have also been used – with an 18 per cent reduction in water consumption expected over that of a new build home.

Bevan Jones, Managing Director, Sustainable Homes.

Bevan gave the “definition of a housing crisis” – the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either “recovery or death” – and questioned both the “quantity and quality” of house building in the last 10 to 15 years. Bevan cited last year’s government Housing White Paper and the independent Bonfield Review as tools to identify challenges. The government’s Committee on Climate Change, the role of housing and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change were
also discussed.

He suggested that – as an industry – we need to be more “critical and sharp”. Indeed: the Grenfell Tower fire last summer was now “front and centre” in the industry. Something positive must come out of this in terms of quality and customer safety.

Recent research

The housing construction sector is behind in its knowledge and implementation of modern methods of construction (MMC). Housing associations keep building to high standards – but other tenures are just catching up. The sector sacrifices sustainability for growth as they are viewed as incompatible – this needs to change.

Opportunities

Bevan wrapped up by calling on industry to be more open minded to different models of delivery, for example, offsite and MMC. The fall in quality “opens the door” for a new standard. Different technologies and the introduction of manufacturing processes should be exploited to achieve a change in culture in the housing industry.

This event follows on from the success of BSRIA’s first Building Better Homes Faster event that took place in July 2017. Building Better Homes Faster 3 (off-site/modular construction, M&E services, new home construction trends and quality) is taking place on Friday 13th July 2018 at Thomson Reuters, Canary Wharf.

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