Industry News

Timber sector responds to Housing White Paper

Timber sector representative bodies have been giving their reaction to the release of the Government’s Housing White Paper.

The publication – released last Tuesday and aimed at “fixing Britain's broken housing market” - will drive Government construction and housing agenda over the next months.

Key announcements include:

- Expanding the land available for new housing without affecting the Green Belt

- Making housing plans easier to produce

- Supporting developers to build out more quickly also encouraging modern methods of construction and promoting custom-build homes

- Giving communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing

- Providing small firms with a loan to help them deliver 25,000 new homes by 2020

- Attracting institutional and private investment on housing sector

- Addressing skills shortages by growing the construction workforce

- Promoting affordable housing through specific initiatives (i.e. Starter Home, Help to Buy)

Iain McIlwee, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), commented: “What is not to like? The Housing White Paper reaffirms the Government’s commitment to resolve what really is the biggest issue on our socio-economic landscape. Rather than seeking a magic bullet, it is a broad strategy that covers all parts of the housing sector, ensuring that the volume housebuilders are free and encouraged to build on available land, and vitally creating an easier mechanism for the custom housebuilder to literally fill in the gaps. 

 “The strategy addresses the balance between ownership and rental properties. And through repeated reference to quality, it reaffirms that it is not just a numbers game, but seeks to ensure we are building quality properties that will stand the test of time – a strong underlying thinking which is very much a Natural Capital approach of not leaving a mess for future generations. This carries into the section on climate change and wherever possible has a positive impact on employment in the UK. 

 “So I am very relieved to see that the social and environmental opportunities have not been overlooked. The whole timber supply chain is ready to support local authorities in developing policies to support this approach, and of course to ensure that the natural advantages of wood are put to good use in delivering the sustainable housing stock we so desperately need.”

Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA), said: “As Sajid Javid outlined what he called ‘the bold radical vision for the housing market’ and the government’s commitment to support offsite factory built homes, the STA firmly believe that offsite timber construction is the only way to reach the specified target of one million homes by 2020. We welcome the government’s commitment to act as a catalyst for change in the wider housing market, through supporting offsite manufacturing techniques.

As the government pledge support for small and medium size developers, as well as initiatives for self and custom builders – in theory there is a lot of positive content in this White Paper. Making the planning system more accessible and releasing land that is currently in public sector ownership, will certainly have an impact but only time will tell how it works in practise.

The time is right for the construction industry to embrace innovative timber technology and offsite techniques to develop better buildings at a rapid rate to meet government targets, to overcome the shortfall in housing stock and produce energy efficient buildings.”

John Newcomb, Managing Director of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) added: “The Builders Merchants Federation welcomes the Government’s ambitious proposals to boost housebuilding.

“We need more homes, of all tenures, that are built to high standards, use less energy and water, are pleasant to live in, and located where people want to live.

“But building new homes isn’t the whole answer, we also need to make the most of the current housing stock that we have. This is why we welcome the Government’s attempts to encourage later life buyers to down-size, with dignity, to somewhere suitable for them. This then releases larger homes back into the market.”

David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) concluded:  “It is good to see the Government finally wake up and acknowledge the need for greater stimulus in the housing market.

The efforts toward greater use of offsite manufacture, along with moves to bring more SME builders into the market will go a long way toward easing pressure in the sector. It is good news for the timber sector.”

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/timber-sector-responds-housing-white-paper]

European Commission launches study on smoke toxicity of construction products

On the 9th of January, the European Commission and the Directorate-General for Internal Market (DG Growth) launched a study on smoke toxicity of construction products.

The aim of the research is to test whether construction materials release toxic smoke when burning.

As underlined by the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (Cei-Bois), "under the current Construction Products Regulation (CPR) materials are not tested for smoke toxicity, even though direct exposure to fumes during a fire and firefighters' exposure in particular can have consequences on health." That is why the findings of the new research will be particularly relevant for future regulation. 

The European Timber Industry will be represented in the study by CEI-Bois that will also monitor the testing with the help of a fire expert.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/european-commission-launches-study-smoke-toxicity-construction-products]

Construction buoyant despite Brexit fears and ONS stats, show BMF Statistics

There are few signs that Brexit has negatively impacted the construction industry according to the latest figures from the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI). 

As shown by the BMF Statistics, timber and joinery products are among the best performing products, reporting a 11.8% sales increase. 

Overall like-for-like sales (allowing for two extra trading days) were up 2.8%. Year to date sales grew 5.4%.

ONS statistics, released today, suggest construction output decreased by 1.5% in August.  Whilst these are a different and broader measure of the construction sector, the contrast with BMBI figures, which relate to building materials, is startling.  

BMF Managing Director, John Newcomb, commented: "We are surprised by the ONS figures as they do not reflect what we see happening in the building materials industry.  We believe that the BMBI figures more accurately show the strength of the sector as they correlate to future output.  Put simply, for a brick to be laid, it first has to be supplied and purchased."

“There is lots of speculation on the impact of Brexit on the economy as a whole and on construction, so we are very encouraged to see sales growth of over 13% in August, which shows that our industry is still strong and in robust health”.

Below you can find a summary table of BMBI statistics for August 2016 and year to date.  

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/construction-buoyant-despite-brexit-fears-and-ons-stats-show-bmf-statistics]

Building materials market growing strongly, BMF KPI Report shows

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has issued its 2016 Key Performance Indicators Report.

The publication gives a picture of how builders merchants’ businesses fared during the twelve months ending April 2016.

According to the report, the building materials market during the period of this report has experienced strong growth. The BMF Sales Indicators reported that for the 12 months ended April 2016 compared with the previous 12 month period, total sales by merchants had increased by 6.2%.

Compared to April 2015, output in the construction industry decreased by 3.7% in April 2016. The underlying pattern as suggested by the 3 month on 3 month movement in output in the construction industry decreased by 2.1%. There was a decrease of 3.3% in all repair and maintenance compared with the same period last year; housing and non-housing repair and maintenance reported decreases of 4.2% and 2.5% respectively.

However on the year, total housing increased by 0.9% compared with April 2015. The main contributor was private new housing which increased by 5.8%, offset by public new housing which decreased by 20.7%. This was the 12th consecutive period of year-on-year decreases in public new housing. 

John Newcomb, Managing Director of the BMF, commented: “Economic and political uncertainty in the run-up to the EU referendum was expected to cause a slow-down in the construction sector. However, sales data from our builders’ merchant members is telling a very different story. 2015/16 sales were up on last year and the merchant market experienced an 8.4% increase between April 2016 and April 2015. We are confident that our members will continue to perform strongly, and the BMF will work with the Government to ensure the best outcomes for our members as the Brexit deal is negotiated.”

To request a copy of the report, contact Richard Ellithorne, BMF Membership Services Director, at [email protected].

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/building-materials-market-growing-strongly-bmf-kpi-report-shows]

BSRIA launches online survey on Brexit effects on Construction Industry

The Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) has launched an online survey - accessible here - on Brexit and the opportunities for the Industry.

"Following the outcome of the EU referendum, Brexit has been described as 'the biggest administrative and legislative challenge since 1945'", said BSRIA Chief Executive Julia Evans.

"As we move towards the invoking of Article 50 it is important that as an industry we are deeply engaged in the debate and are proactively advising Government on what is required from the negotiations to guarantee an industry that can deliver sustainable growth."

The outcome of the survey will contribute to a BSRIA white paper that will be discussed with Government outlining Construction Industry needs and expectations.

 

[News URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/bsria-launches-online-survey-brexit-effects-construction-industry]
 

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