An insulation specialist has come up with a novel way of addressing the shortfall in the government’s ambitious housing targets, suggesting that the industry looks at the issue from an entirely different perspective.
UK and Ireland director of pan European insulation specialist Actis, Matthew King, suggests that rather than focusing on the lack of skilled workers, a factor cited by 66% of RICS surveyors as being the biggest barrier to growth, we look at ways to build homes which take less time and require fewer skilled tradespeople.
The inevitable spiral in house prices due to lack of stock and higher wage packets – brickies have been known to command double the usual fee in some cases - will exacerbate the crisis further. Training more skilled people will take several years.
But Matthew suggests if instead of pushing for more people to develop the skills we lack, we veer towards houses which are quicker to build and take fewer skilled man hours – thus reducing outlay and increasing productivity during the period in which the new trainees are learning their trade.
Those criteria are addressed in two words - timber frame. Barratt Developments has announced that it will be using timber frame and closed panel roof systems on around 6% of its plots this year – and if more volume builders follow suit this is a viable way to get us building again on a grand scale.
New construction methods mean the quality of a closed panel timber frame house is every bit as good – indeed often better in terms of thermal efficiency – than a traditional brick and block construction. So while building these requires fewer skilled workers the lower skill base is not reflected in the final result.