How to make the homebuilding process more about building homes.
Steve Mansour, CEO, CRL
Getting tangled up in red tape is every small to medium builder and developer’s nightmare. Overly complex policies, unnecessary processes, outdated legacy systems and piles of local government paperwork all cause long, costly delays. This bureaucracy repeatedly threatens to pull focus from the job at hand – building homes and meeting the challenge of our national housing crisis.
CRL recently surveyed SME builders and developers to gain insight into the challenges and opportunities they face. The results clearly show the feelings and grievances experienced by those who are building the homes of tomorrow, today. One strong theme that emerged is the belief that there is inadequate support from those who set regulatory and legal stipulations and requirements. 53% of those surveyed described the government as either ‘unsupportive’ or ‘very unsupportive’. Just 2% thought legislators were ‘very supportive’ of the industry. There’s an inbuilt irony here: there is a radical disjuncture between the support expressed by policymakers for the building trade, and the level of practical help that they deliver.
Current legal frameworks are outdated and no longer fit for purpose. Government policy unfairly favours larger homebuilders over small to medium developers. Some of the steps that could be taken to correct this are simple. The government ought to minimise form-filling to allow contractors to focus on quality builds and workmanship. The government’s recent White Paper, ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ states that “The fundamentals of the Building Regulations system remain sound and important steps were taken in the last Parliament to rationalise housing standards.” Yet, there is still much progress to be made.
In her foreword for the White Paper, the Prime Minister promises the government will be “giving councils and developers the tools they need to build more swiftly” in order to “tackle unnecessary delays”. If this sentiment was translated into practical action, our industry would gain great momentum. Instead, one developer working on a project to construct just over 100 homes was faced with 40 different demands from the council that had to be met before the development could progress. These included: