When looking at structural longevity, it’s difficult to look past well-known historical buildings that are not only largely structurally secure, but prove a point about how long a structure can withstand the elements.
Take the Palace of Versailles as an example. It has been standing since the 17th century and to all intents and purposes, the main chateau building remains essentially intact. So why do we assume that residential houses of a much smaller scale should be any different?
The question of how long a property should last is often debated in the construction industry. In 1992, it was suggested that new build properties should have at least a 60-year lifespan. However, just 25 years on, the Local Government Association (LGA) has stated that new-build homes should last at least 2,000 years. This is quite an increase; in fact, 33 times more; and considering that new houses are needed immediately, raises the question: what should the lifespan of a residential property really be?
When answering this question, it’s important to look at the issue of demand versus quality, particularly in relation to new builds and developments. The continued housing shortage in the UK has led to an urgent demand for new homes but ultimately, these homes need to be built with the long-term future in mind if they are to address the housing crisis.
The recent report by the LGA states that one in 10 purchasers of new homes were not happy with the overall quality of the build, and a further one in six would not recommend their construction developer to a friend. So the lifespan of a new build is surely being brought into question too.
Considering that most areas within the UK have more homes built before 1930 than any other period, the suggestion is that build quality has declined over recent years due to cost implications and the quantity of builds. However, there are inevitably going to be a small number of cases where there are issues, especially when building tens of thousands of any product, let alone something as complex as a house. Builders don’t have the luxury that those in retail do, to recall a product if there are issues.