Bad weather affected new home building registration in the UK in first quarter of 2018

The number of new houses registered to be built in the UK in the first three months of 2018 fell by 14% compared with the same period in 2017 with bad weather being partly to blame.

The latest figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC), which registers 80% of all new private and affordable homes built in the UK, show it was the worse percentage fall in one three month period since 2012.

The data also shows that 154,698 new homes were registered to be built in the 2017/2018 financial year and this was the second highest number of registrations in a decade but a decrease of 2% on the record 157,805 registrations seen in 2016/2017.

Six out of the 12 UK regions experienced growth in the 2017/2018 financial year with the most notable increases in the North West with a rise of 21%, the East Midlands up 12% and Wales up 11%.

But recent harsh winter weather dragged down the annual number of new builds for 2017/2018 by 2%. In the first quarter of this year some 36,637 new homes registered compared to 42,405 in the same period last year and the NHBC said there are anecdotal reports from some house builders that up to 30 days were lost on site in the first quarter of the year as a direct result of the arctic conditions.

‘By far the biggest influence was the Beast from the East, the extreme cold weather that we had. That was very disruptive. I was on site and nothing was happening, the ground was frozen and there was a biting wind,’ said Steve Wood, chief executive of the NHBC.

‘Builders typically lost something like 30 days production – that has an impact on registrations, what’s coming through the pipeline. That is the main reason we saw the slowdown in the first quarter,’ he added.

He also pointed out that another major problem was a lack of bricklayers and that new methods of building houses, such as modular units put together in factories before being moved to construction sites, should have to be promoted more rapidly to enable more homes to be built and reach Government targets of 300,000 a year.

‘To get to the 300,000 would require something like an additional 25,000 bricklayers. That’s not going to happen so we need to change the way that we build houses and embrace modern methods much more fully,’ Wood said.

Although some parts of the UK such as the north east of England and Wales saw the number of houses built over the year rise, the overall figures were dragged down by sharp falls in places like London.

Wood pointed out that looking ahead confidence is high. ‘New home registration figures for the last financial year have reached the second highest level in a decade, despite a challenging start to 2018, with freezing weather conditions affecting building sites up and down the country,’ he said.

‘Business confidence in both the private and affordable sectors remains high with clear routes to continued growth in 2018, and NHBC will continue to help support house builders to build the high quality new homes that people across the UK need,’ he added.