Quality compromised in rush to build new homes

At last! Peter Redfern admits quality is being compromised in the rush to build new homes

Pete RedfernTaylor Wimpey CEO Peter Redfern has said that the Government’s target to build a million homes by 2020 is unachievable and quality will be compromised if the industry does try to meet it. Well if anyone should know about compromising the quality of new homes it’s Redfern! Taylor Wimpey has a terrible reputation for building poor quality homes and when their customers complain, an equally poor record and attitude to fixing these defects. This, despite the claims made on Taylor Wimpey’s website including: “The standard of home building in the UK has never been higher than it is today.”   ” it’s like buying a brand new car and driving it out of the showroom” Only with a new car it is unlikely to have as many problems as a new Taylor Wimpey home!

Only last November, Taylor Wimpey were extensively featured on the Dispatches Documentary “Britain’s Nightmare New Homes.” In 2012 Taylor Wimpey were again panned on the BBC Watchdog programme.

The company’s unhappy buyers regularly lambast the builder on social media with the twitter feed #thinkwimpeythinktwice. On 5th December 2015,  BBC South today recently featured the story of Evelyn Lallo who has been living in temporary home since June 2015, whilst Taylor Wimpey sorts out serious defects.

This has nothing to do with a skills shortage Mr Redfern!

and at their Loddon Park development in Reading Taylor Wimpey claim: “these are exceptional issues and are in no way a reflection of our high standards”

Yesterday Peter Redfern told the Sunday Express:

“The numbers can be achieved but I don’t believe that they can be achieved properly on the pace that is being set. I’m a firm believer that the issues and constraints in the housing market are long-term ones. To try to solve a long-term issue over the course of one parliament is next to impossible.”

Redfern then blamed the “frustrating” length of the planning process for slowing down house building. Oh that old chestnut! This is what he has said previously. It’s not the planning process per-se but the housebuilders own inability to work through and comply with the approval conditions that causes their “delay”. That, along with land hoarding whilst waiting for further increases in house prices to boost profits still further!

He said: “Can the UK build 200,000 homes [a year]? Yes it can. “Can it build more than that… 225,000 or 230,000? As long as the policy changes on planning are seen through and the industry continues to invest and step up, then yes. But not overnight and probably not on the time frame the Government is setting out.”

“To an extent you create the wrong behaviours if you try to achieve the right thing over the wrong time frame. Take the quality of homes. It is passionately important to us that we deliver good-quality homes.” Really? Do you still really believe that Mr Redfern?

“If the whole industry is trying to grow at an unsustainable rate that becomes more and more difficult.” Call me cynical, but could these statements be as a result of you being informed that Taylor Wimpey has probably lost another star (it will be the second year running!) in your industry’s in-house HBF customer survey star rating? Are you are getting in first, blaming the government for asking for more homes to be built more quickly , ahead of possible fall-out once the APPG Inquiry report into the ‘Quality of New Build Housing in England’ is published?

Stephen Stone, chief executive of housebuilder Crest Nicholson, told the Sunday Express he was in agreement: “We’ve been saying for some time that if their aspirations are to deliver more than 240,000 homes a year, it needs a combination not only of the larger builders but a return of small- and medium-sized enterprises to the market.”

But critics are also blaming a lack of ‘skilled workers’ for the high number of undeveloped sites.

Stone said: “The industry, in 2008, lost about 40% of its workforce. It is often thought that it’s only bricklayers and carpenters but actually it is office workers, surveyors and technical experts as well. We need to encourage graduates, apprenticeships and more day-release training.”

Well yes you do, but why would they choose to work in an industry, for employers that make swaging cuts to their workforce at the first sign of a slowdown? For years this industry has bemoaning a lack of skilled people in boom times, when it can’t make money fast enough, but it is all too quick to shed nearly half its workforce and the cut rates paid to sub contractors at the very hint of a market retraction. The CITB has been in existence since 1964 and yet the construction industry still complains of a skills shortage? In 2010, there were 16,890 construction, planning and built environment apprentices in the UK, but this figure had fallen to just over 8,000 by 2015. Perhaps the industry is too busy making money to spend the time and effort needed to train the people it maintains it needs to meet the government target of one million new homes by 2020.  Here’s an idea Mr Stone, why not require housebuilders to employ three apprentices for every 50 homes as condition of planning approval.

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