BRICKS, BLOCKS & PAVERS MAKING THE CASE FOR MASONRY At a time when we are looking for a plentiful supply of new housing stock, masonry does not often appear too high on the list of construction options. However, Norman Hinckes believes it should be. You cannot talk about the construction OCTOBER 2016 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 41 industry without mentioning two things, the skills shortage and the widely reported housing crisis. Many meals have been made out of the current housing shortage. It has been headlined in every paper, the topic of every recent budget and considered an essential part of the manifestos for every political party. It is an undisputed fact that we have not built enough houses for probably a generation or more and our society is now made up of the ‘grey landlords’ and a growing generation that rents. We have an enormous problem of a lack of quality affordable housing in the UK, and we are all tasked to do something about it. Just how or what we are going to do is something that leads us back to the usual well covered debates. Realistically the solution is simple and one that many people subscribe to, ‘we need to build significantly more houses, and a lot faster!’ Without touching on the issues of planning, land supply and the significant influence that the private sector has over our industry, it leads us to the issue of how we address the problem. How do we go about building these 250,000 new homes required a year quickly and cost effectively, when the industry is suffering from a huge skills shortage and a lack of training, funding and general investment in an industry for the corresponding generation? Our options, to say the least, appear to be very limited. For many, the solution is to re-explore the world of Off Site Manufacture, be it timber frame, modular construction, light steel frame or any other modern methods of construction. We appreciate technology has moved on substantially from the bygone eras, of post war reconstruction and the 1970s when we were throwing up ‘prefabs’ ten to the dozen; however, so has the rest of the world of construction build methods.
BP 10 October 2016
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