John Tutte, CEO at Redrow, looks at the key themes for housebuilders this year:
Tackling the skills shortage
“Meeting the government’s target to build 300,000 new homes a year is challenging – but it can be met. To reach this goal the industry must accelerate the good work it has instigated in recent years to recruit and train more people and we will inevitably have to explore new and innovative ways to build.
“Redrow is an industry-leader when it comes to training. Last year we employed a record 353 trainees making up 17% of our workforce. At the very start of this year we announced we had established the first ever housebuilding degree which will help us to upskill our existing team members as well as attracting new talent to the business. This prestigious qualification will be jointly accredited by the CIOB and RICS.
“We are innovating the way we deliver training too – we are investing in online learning and this year we will be utilising virtual reality for the first time to upskill new and current staff. Initiatives such as these should be utilised across the industry and will help us attract more people from more diverse backgrounds and raise productivity and quality.
“The Home Building Skills Partnership is also a key part of this. Over the past year this cross-industry body has been putting into place plans to improve the sector’s image, identify new sources of talent, raise standards and to work more closely with our supply-chain. This year these plans will really start with a drive to recruit more people, to change the industry’s image amongst the next generation and to set minimum standards around skills and training.”
The WhatHouse? New Homes Debate in March will focus on how the industry can address the skills shortage and inspire the next generation of housebuilders. In June, the inaugural Show House Awards will celebrate the in-house schemes and course providers that are forging pathways for those wanting to enter and progress through the industry.
Stimulating the wider housing market
“While we saw relatively strong new home sales throughout much of 2017, the wider market remained relatively subdued with overall transactions down on the previous year,” Tutte continued. “Measures to help first-time buyers were of course welcomed, but to meet the government’s ambitious housing targets we need to stimulate the wider housing market. We need measures to help existing owners to right-size – to move to homes that better suit their lifestyles.
“Redrow’s range of homes are designed to suit all buyers – in particular, our new Lifestyle product is in high demand for those wishing to right-size. Last year we surveyed 1,500 people in the 50-70 age range and 27% said they would like to move from their current home to fund their retirement. However, many cannot do so because they are unable to sell or complete chains on their existing home.
“Incomes are being squeezed and high transaction costs are an impediment to moving; they restrict mobility and are a drag on the economy. Stamp Duty Land Tax adds to the cost of moving and reform to reduce this inequitable charge is long overdue for all buyers. A more active wider housing market will give more choice, help keep prices affordable and give a real boost to the economy.”
Deploying smart technology
“2018 will see greater use of ‘smart’ technology in the home and in the workplace.
“At Redrow we are extending our successful My Redrow tool and working on introducing on-line paperless buying. Customers will be able to reserve online, have all the details of their home to hand and monitor progress. The whole process will be quicker, more transparent and a better experience for the customer.
“We are also looking at using ‘smart’ technology in the workplace to improve the customer experience through more advanced quality and after-sales management. And we expect to see the inclusion of more ‘smart’ technology in homes to give customers device and voice control in areas such as heating, lighting and security.”
Creating great places to live
“Above all else, in 2018 Redrow will continue to build great places to live.
“Places with a carefully planned wide-range of award-winning homes that will stand the test of time.
“Places that are attractive, respect their surroundings and where our customers can live a healthy lifestyle.
“Places where people aspire to live and can be confident they have made the right choice.”