Thursday, 22 November 2012

NHBC marches on

I have been privileged to sit on the Board of the National House Building Council for some 5 years, as well as sitting on various committees and chairing NHBC Services Ltd.  Some architects may think of the NHBC as that body that says “no, you cannot do that!” but it really is an astonishing organisation.

Founded in 1936 to raise the standards of house-building, it is an independent non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee with no shareholders to feed; it provides 10-year warranties for new homes and invests in research and standards for the benefit of householders and the industry.  It is an FSA-regulated company providing insurance cover for 80% of new homes backed with accumulated assets of over £1.5bn. 

There is no doubt that standards have improved dramatically as has ‘customer satisfaction’ but for me the biggest challenge is how to gather the new knowledge to meet our carbon emission targets and translate that for and transmit that to the industry.  Targets are constantly changing but the work of the Zero Carbon Hub, largely funded by NHBC, and the downloadable publications of the NHBC Foundation are a huge benefit – do read them.

We Non-Executive Board Members (NEDs) are a wide-ranging group with insurers and actuaries, the chief executive of one major house builder and the energetic Executive Chairman of the House Builders Federation, the Chairman of the Institute for European Environmental Policy, a consumer champion, a former Permanent Secretary and me the architect – and 4 of the ten are women.  The new Chair Isabel Hudson and very new Chief Executive Mike Quinton are encouraging us to consider the urgent challenges of the moment:

·         How to respond to the huge shortfall in new housing – we need 244,000 new homes a year but last year only registered 112,500 new homes

·         How to help the Government integrate the regulations affecting housing and not just binning them all.

·         How to meet the very real challenges of (low and) zero carbon homes

·         How to support the transformation of our existing housing stock – we have to reduce their emissions by 80% at the rate of 1,600 a day between now and 2050.

Today the housing industry is gathering in Covent Garden for the NHBC Annual Lunch and will be hoping (in vain?) for words of real policy change from the Deputy Prime Minister.  Either way and despite the dire triple dip economic situation the NHBC will respond to these challenges in the interest of the industry and the wider community.

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