When the going gets tough we all need a little help from our trusted friends. So it is with private and public house builders who are turning to masonry as they seek to deal with the worst downturn in housing since the depression of the 1930s.
The latest quarterly key figures from the NHBC confirm a massive three-point gain in market share for masonry as social housing providers, in particular, turn their back on timber frame in search of more flexible, locally sourced, cost-effective solutions.
Private house building all but stopped as funds evaporated and the housing market seized up. We are now seeing more activity and a new model is emerging with house builders, who are still battling falling land bank values, unwilling to plough cash into the speculative construction of large sites, preferring to proceed with caution on what is effectively a build-to-order basis.
The need to reduce costs and drive maximum flexibility, off-the-shelf availability and a 15% plus cost saving over timber frame are just some of the reasons why decision makers are turning the their back on imported timer frame solutions.
In the public sector the historical drivers have been different. Much of the gains for timber frame, over the last few years, have been as a result of the requirement to include Modern Methods of Construction on 106 projects. This has now been scrapped and the door is open for social housing providers to take full advantage of the flexibility and the cost effectiveness of masonry while protecting UK jobs, which is essential if we are to have truly sustainable communities.
Perhaps the biggest change in the public sector is yet to come. With UK borrowings approaching a massive £800bn the public sector is bracing itself for a massive program of cost savings and efficiency gains post the 2010 election.
There has never been a more important time for our money to be spent on locally produced goods that will create jobs and save the tax payer money. Masonry construction ticks all the boxes and offers a high performance solution that meets the Code for Sustainable Homes and provides the thermal mass we will need as summer overheating becomes a major challenge.