There is much current debate around the need to build 200,000 homes per annum to satisfy the country’s growing demand, regardless of the mix between private and social housing. It is the number agreed by all interested parties on the levels of housing needed to begin reducing the waiting list for UK homes. Everyone including Government, industry specialists and those with the responsibility for building new homes is very aware of this target and its potential impact on the housing situation which exists currently.
The sudden rise in new build housing projects in the second quarter of 2013 brought with it a dramatic increase in demand for all building products and, as a result, a temporary shortage of materials across the entire industry. Whilst the industry was aware of the Help to Buy initiative, the rate of success that it achieved was unexpected. Everyone from manufacturers to builders and merchants found themselves in challenging situations as a consequence of the sudden increase in demand. The Aircrete Product Association Members (APA) responded to the change in market conditions by rapidly bringing additional production on stream. This action ensured that the aircrete shortages experienced in the second half of 2013 had disappeared by the first quarter of 2014.
Since the beginning of 2013 Housing starts* in Great Britain have increased by 34% from 119,000 to 160,000 per annum and this figure is expected to rise going forward as we continue to climb out of the recession which has held housebuilding back since 2008. During this same two year period, UK domestic aircrete block producers have acted positively by gearing up production as a direct response to increased demand from house builders. As a result, aircrete production has increased by 45% from 450,000 m3 in the quarter ending December 2012 to over 650,000 m3 in the quarter ending June 2014, which when directly compared, is actually at a faster rate than the current rate of new housebuilding growth.
By the end of 2014, a recorded 92% of all new homes in England and 87% in the whole of Great Britain were constructed using masonry products**. The rapid response to demand from the aircrete industry has clearly contributed to the popularity of masonry homes as the build method of choice during the same period. The extra production brought on stream since the beginning of 2013 is sufficient for an additional 60,000 homes per annum. This means the UK aircrete industry is already in a position to manufacture sufficient product to meet the political and social aspirations for building 200,000 homes per annum going forward.