In the final quarter of 2020 the UK’s house-building sector returned to pre-coronavirus levels, with demand and confidence driving the anticipation for newly built homes.
Undoubtedly the pandemic has had a significant impact on the operation of the house-building sector, leading to delays in the delivery of various projects. The first national lockdown in the UK is starkly reflected in the statistics from the National House-Building Council (NHBC) where the first half of 2020 saw a 23% decline in the number of homes registered, and the number completed, in comparison to 2019.
In the final quarter of 2020, the statistics indicate an entirely different picture with the sector expanding to register 39,749 new homes, which is only 2% lower than the figures from the final quarter of 2019. The NHBC are the UK’s main provider for warranty and insurance for new homes and require building companies to register prospective new-builds with the council before construction commences. Collective data indicates an upwards shift in this sector with its recovery levels rivalling those pre-pandemic. Subsequently, confidence in project delivery from developers and construction contractors continues to accumulate as many move forwards with their adjusted timelines.
A spokesperson for the council, Chief executive of NHBC Steve Wood, confirms that, “against the backdrop of the pandemic, the new build housing market has held up very well, with house-builders showing resilience and adaptability throughout 2020.”
The most substantial challenges were present in the second quarter 2020, with many building sites being required to close due to the overwhelming health concerns. However, the construction sector overcame this initial difficulty and adapted to new Covid-safe site practices at an admirable pace. Another challenge which materialised in the first month of this year was the widely publicised Brexit-imposed trade complications. Consequently, this caused a prolonged wait for many essential construction materials and delays occurred, in some cases significantly impacting project completion timeframes.
In spite of this, the construction sector has seen some major benefits and improvements from its conformity with new government guidelines. Some of these include an increase to productivity and efficiency, with more foresight and planning taking place, and also to healthy & safety facilities for on-site staff. Furthermore, it is anticipated that these technical and procedural changes will have a long-lasting impact on the industry vastly improving future productivity.
It is expected that pent-up demand from the various lockdown restrictions will continue to drive the new-build sector in an upwards curve. The government’s requirement to meet a quota of new-build projects per annum, and its dedication to prioritising house-building as a key focus, this sector is forecast to play a substantial role in the UK’s economic recovery.