Building Homes Better

Over the course of 2017, a cross-sector group of members of The Housing Forum formed a working group chaired by Rory Bergin, HTA Design, to investigate how building better quality homes can be delivered to improve the experience of those buying and renting them. We decided to limit our remit to the quality of individual homes while fully acknowledging that good place making and appropriate and sustainable infrastructure are essential to the creation of good living environments.

We have looked into the points of interaction between customers and the housing industry and found systemic failures to provide quality outcomes, either in terms of design quality or customer satisfaction. This report is intended to highlight where those problems occur, and what we think can be done about them to achieve a positive change for quality.

Rory Bergin, Chair of the Working Group

This report aims to highlight the view of a cross-sector group of housing experts who are members of The Housing Forum. This is a group that procures, designs, makes and builds homes across the UK and which cares deeply about the quality of the final result. Our families, friends, tenants and customers occupy the results of our work, and our reputations depend on it being good quality housing. No one in the housing industry should be satisfied with anything less than this. Unfortunately, many are.

The mistake has been made by some in the industry of confusing low cost or affordable housing with a sub-standard poorly finished product. Some companies have let the pressures for profit and speed override their natural concerns to deliver the best quality that they possibly can at an affordable price. This is letting both themselves down and their customers down.

The results of failures tarnish the entire sector and throw doubts in the mind of customers whether they are in fact getting value for money, even when they are. It is also driving customers to purchase older homes in the mistaken belief that they represent better value for money.

We want a housing industry that delivers more for less, that aims for the highest quality in each price range, and which aims to deliver a right first-time product that we can all be proud of. In this report we set out how we think this can be achieved through a series of new ideas, case studies and recommended changes to practices and policy.

Our focus has been on the changes needed in policy and industry practice to put quality and the consumer at the centre. This is ever more pressing given the government’s commitment to increase the numbers of net homes provided to 300,000 by the mid-2020s. The Housing Forum will build on this work in 2017/18 with further study into site practices and processes covering procurement, contracting and ongoing maintenance.

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