Reimagining housing to meet environmental standards

Reimagining housing to meet environmental standards

By 2050, Britain aims to be carbon neutral, with the ‘Future Homes Standard’ being part of the plan. Due to be enforced in 2025, it will set minimum environmental standards for new housing.

Martin Jones, partner and head of our projects and infrastructure group, explains how the construction industry can ensure UK housing reaches these standards:

Quantity or quality

All across the UK, housebuilders and developers are in a constant battle over whether to build more homes to meet demand or create high-quality homes to suit people’s changing needs. Unfortunately, budget constraints have led to some new homes failing to meet the required standards.

However, once the Future Homes Standard comes into play, standards must improve causing challenges for the construction industry.

Diversifying housing stock

Although in other European countries housing stock has been diversified to suit the changing needs of the population, in the UK, homes are largely still built to cater for the average 2.2-person family.

This is no longer viable, with greater flexibility needed now more than ever.

Redefining the housing market

The Future Homes Standard will give developers and housebuilders the chance to create a wider range of properties that can be adapted to suit people’s needs.

However, the UK housing market is notoriously slow to adapt, making this exciting opportunity a potential source of stress for many developers, especially the ‘big players’. As well as having to introduce new materials, which will need to be thoroughly tested, there will also be a variety of other challenges to overcome, such as the development of new skillsets.

The price of quality

Unsurprisingly, the improvement in standards will likely increase the price of new homes. Some schemes are already working to tight margins, and these may become even more difficult to deliver, and sell, once the new standards are brought in.

In order to encourage developers to follow the new standards, the UK government must provide solutions. A good starting point would be a material reduction of Stamp Duty on homes that meet the quality guidelines. The most important thing is that the solutions are deliverable, not just aspirational.

Cutting corners is no longer acceptable, and the housing market must move forward to ensure homes are fit for the future. Housebuilders need to work together with the Government, allowing change to occur and costs to be shared. If implemented successfully, the Future Homes Standard could provide a whole new outlook for UK housing.

Learn more about our projects and infrastructure team.