The FMB’s 2021 House Builders’ Survey, which focuses on small and medium-sized (SME) house-builders in England, suggests a high level of anxiety among building firms. There is no shortage of demand for their services but the impediments are substantial.
63% of small builders say they are limited in their ability to build homes by a lack of available and viable land.
62% say they are struggling with material shortages. There have been widespread reports this year of supplies of basic materials including timber, bricks and cement being disupted.
61% say that they feel 'held back' by the planning system.
And 53% say that cannot find the workers they need.
The annual survey, now in its 10th year, also indicates that buyer demand is at a survey high. Builders report that demand for new homes is booming. But such is the dominance of the national majors, only 12% of new housing is delivered by small builders these days, compared with 40% in the 1980s.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Demand for new homes is soaring, but the decline of the small house-builder has hit the capacity, competitiveness and diversity of the house-building industry, and is slowing down delivery. We will fail to deliver, sustainably, 300,000 homes a year unless we take action to reverse this trend.”
He continued: “Builders can’t build if they don’t have the land, and the FMB House Builders’ Survey 2021 sends a clear message. With 71% of small builders reporting the number of small site opportunities is decreasing, and only 19% feeling a high level of certainty over the outcome of planning applications, these constraints are proving stubborn to shift.”
He added: “It is not all gloom, however. Improvements in access to finance are welcome, and recent government commitments to expand access to the self and custom build market will give small builders a boost.”