Five things housebuilders should know about blockchain

August 22, 2018 / Isla MacFarlane
Five things housebuilders should know about blockchain

While blockchain was created for cryptocurrency transactions, the digital scaffolding at the heart of the bitcoin phenomenon can easily be transported to another industry. For housebuilders, it has the power to shorten supply chains, cut intermediaries and condense the planning process. Within 10 years blockchain could:

Cut the middle-people

Blockchain can trigger transactions automatically, eliminating the need the intermediaries such as lawyers and cutting the associated costs and delays.

“Currently, all data, such as planning information, needs human verification by the data source,” explained Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director of Search Acumen. “A decentralised database of information removes the need for this trust, as professionals are presented with real time, ready-verified property or land information at their fingertips.

“Property passports, for example, could be created and stored on the Blockchain, containing all the essential current and historic information on a plot of land or building in one, easily accessed and reliable location, cutting out the need for human verification and slashing time lags.”

Speed up property transactions

Intelligent smart contracts held within the blockchain could turbo-charge property transactions.

“Blockchain has the potential to speed up the buying and selling of property – that includes all transactions from land purchase and planning, right through to eventual new homes sales to customers,” said Edward Casson, Director at Go Homes. “The benefits include speed, efficiency and clarity and, of course, costs. New homes could one day be as simple as a click and purchase transaction saving months of delays and costs.”

Give buyers more confidence in new homes

Blockchain acts as an independent guardian, ensuring every agreement, task and payment is etched onto an indelible and unbreakable public record. Because this is copied millions of times, it is impossible to tamper with, giving the public access to unlimited and unquestionable information about the homes they are buying.

Dr. Shamir Ghumra, Head of Responsible Sourcing in the Centre for Sustainable Products at BRE, explained, “Distributed Ledger Technology is a great opportunity for the housebuilding sector to create a digital record where all information related to a home is immutable, verified, accessible to all and lasts over the lifetime of the home.

“The value of it is that you can have trackable information on the procurement and provenance of all materials and products, and on the people who delivered the project: developers, architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, installers etc.; on the home’s compliance with buildings regulations; its Energy Performance Rating; and a range of other things. Blockchain could become a critical part of the selling and buying process and would give a level of power to consumers to start demanding more from the delivery chain.”

Give housebuilders confidence in the supply chain

The above works both ways. Housebuilders will be able to ensure their supply chains are reliable, ethical and the best value.

Andy Williams, Head of Geospatial and resident data expert, added, “Think of it like buying a plane, you buy a digital token for one asset, but that token is linked to 2-3 million components, all traceable through their own digital tokens. A house will have traceable components too, providing confidence in the product; the ultimate extension of the concept will be when sub-contractors time is also a traceable commodity.”

Cut time

It isn’t just the buying process that will be accelerated. In the not so distant future, houses could be built with more clicks than bricks.

“In today’s market, property and construction professionals are unable to maximise their productivity,” said Lloyd. “This is ultimately hurting new build output and the reputation of the industry is suffering major blows as a consequence. To combat this malaise, there is a need for systemic digitisation of data and collaboration across the industry, and it is time that property firms realise what is possible.”

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