Blog: Will new homes have to last 2,000 years?

The Local Government Association (LGA) recently unveiled a shock report revealing that, if current housebuilding rates continue, new build homes in England will have to be designed to remain habitable for the next 2,000 years to ensure everyone has a roof over their heads.

Shortfalls in new housing provision over the past few decades, in addition to the pressing shortage of skilled tradespeople, mean existing homes are required to house more people and last much longer. This has led to the country spending nearly as much on the repair and maintenance of existing homes as it does building new ones - with the total bills running to £27bn and £35bn respectively.  

The report also found that most local areas have more homes built before 1930 than from any other period of time, demonstrating the age of much of England’s housing stock.

There are ways housebuilders can streamline the construction process, to minimise costs and overcome productivity limitations posed by the skills shortage. Moving away from traditional methods of building to embrace new technologies is particularly important to improve construction efficiency.

For example, more and more housebuilders are exploring the potential of machine control systems to boost on-site efficiency. This technology sees a 3D model sent via satellite positioning to a visual display in the cab. Contractors can use this to make digging decisions based on very specific data, instead of relying on human judgement alone. Such systems help minimise unnecessary mistakes like removing too much or too little earth from a foundation, helping to cut housebuilding expense by reducing waste.

Hybrid technology is also making a big difference on the worksite. By integrating multiple applications under one piece of kit, hybrid systems perform faster in the field and are much more versatile. Topcon’s Hybrid Positioning systems, for example, combine GNSS positioning and optical robotic measurements on one rover pole – giving users a much smarter workflow. 

New software programmes are also having a huge impact on streamlining communication between the office and the field. Our MAGNET Enterprise and Sitelink systems allow teams to track assets on larger sites, like machinery, and enable them to share data on the move. This makes the process from design to site more efficient for everyone involved.

This is just a small selection of the kind of technologies that have the potential to transform the way we build homes in the future, and help us meet the UK’s housing demand in the future. By implementing such systems now, we can go a long way towards ensuring our housing stock doesn’t have to remain habitable into the fourth millennium. 

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