House-builders are looking to so-called ‘modern methods of construction’ – doing as much of the work as possible in factories instead of on building sites – to maintain their huge profits, according to the report from Lloyds Bank.
The third annual Lloyds Bank housebuilding report, which surveys house-builders and their supply chain, assesses the state of the industry. It found that 68% of firms are already investing in modular housing techniques and 56% reported investing in panelised systems.
Reported motives include improved efficiency, ease of build, better construction standards and increased margins.
Investment in new building techniques has increased year-on-year from 20% of current annual turnover to 24% over five years.
Builders were also questions about the labour market and 31% said there was a skills shortage at a national level. A half of respondents said that the UK’s exit from the EU was exacerbating the skills shortage.
Almost seven in 10 firms (69%) of are investing in staff training but only 51% have apprenticeship programmes.
The research found that optimism about the future of the house-building industry remains positive. It gives it a score of 6.9 out of a maximum possible 10. Last year it was 7.2.
Growth ambitions also remain strong with the sector collectively anticipating growth of 29% of current business turnover over the next five years, up from 28% last year.
House-builders expected to invest 31% of their current annual turnover back into their business over the next five years, still historically high but down slightly from 35% in the last report.
David Cleary, regional director and national head of housebuilding at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The housebuilding industry remains upbeat despite issues that have weighed down the sector for some time, including Brexit uncertainty, which is contributing to a skills shortage and inflating the cost of raw materials.
“It is reassuring to see the sector confronting these challenges head on by investing and planning for business growth, prioritising staff training and looking at more innovative new building techniques. This has the potential to boost productivity and, more importantly, increase the pipeline of new homes that the nation badly needs.”
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said: “Whilst output is up an unprecedented 74% in the past four years, the industry faces some huge challenges as it strives to meet the housing needs of the country. House-builders are investing significantly to address these challenges and ensure the industry has the capacity and skills to deliver even more, high quality homes.”