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Public confidence in new-builds falls, says the LGA

Words: Laura Edgar
House repairs / iStock-121193675

If the current rate of housebuilding and replacement continues, the average new home in England will have to last for 2,000 years, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

The representative body for councils in England said the country is spending nearly as much on the repair and maintenance of the existing housing stock as it does building new ones.

Analysis by the LGA suggests that one in 10 buyers are not satisfied with the quality of the home they buy. One in six would not recommend their housebuilder to a friend.

Most areas have more homes built before 1930 than from any other period, according to the report, The Quality of Housing, which was compiled by Residential Analysts for the LGA.

The LGA has called on the government to assist councils in building “a new generation of high-quality, genuinely affordable and additional homes” that are supported by adequate infrastructure and services. For this to be achieved, housebuilders would need to work with councils to ensure that the new homes are built to a good quality and would stand the test of time, it added.

Council leaders are also concerned about the quality of private rented homes, with 28 per cent not considered decent. On the other hand, 85 per cent of council homes meet the decent homes standard, an increase from 70 per cent in 2008.

They think a “national renaissance” in council housebuilding is central to solving the country’s housing shortage and to improve the quality of homes. To do this, the LGA said councils needed to be able to borrow to build – and keep 100 per cent of the receipts of homes they sell.

Judith Blake, housing spokesperson at the LGA, said: “Families are having to spend more on rent or mortgages every month and deserve a decent home that is affordable. But as costs are rising, so is dissatisfaction with the standards of new homes.

“Everyone deserves an affordable and decent place to live. It’s crucial that all new and existing homes are up to a decent standard.

“Councils need to be able to ensure quality through the planning system, and to encourage high standards in rented and owned properties across the board.

“To spark a desperately needed renaissance in council housebuilding, councils also need to able to borrow to build new homes and keep all receipts from any homes they sell to reinvest in building new homes that are of a good quality and affordable.”

Brian Berry, chief executive at the Federation Master Builders (FMB), said in order to address the problem of undersupply of housing, it is “vital” that the government acts on proposals laid out in the housing white paper, published in February, including diversifying the housebuilding sector.

“The concern is that almost six months after the white paper was published, we’ve seen limited movement on a range of policies that if implemented, could start making a difference today,” Berry said.

“The LGA report also raises concerns regarding the quality of new homes and points to one in ten home buyers being dissatisfied with the end result. To put this another way, that means 90 per cent of consumers are satisfied with the quality of their new home, which is a high customer satisfaction rate. Furthermore, this satisfaction rate is likely to be higher still among customers of SME house builders like the ones represented by the FMB. Our members market themselves on building high quality bespoke homes for their clients and this is their unique selling point.”

Image credit | iStock