Walking the Walk – Construction Trends 2021

It’s fair to say the events of 2021 tested the mettle of the UK housebuilding sector, with all developers affected in some way, regardless of size. Thankfully, the response to the exceptional circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, showcases the industry at its best. 

The more collaborative approach the situation encouraged has brought a myriad of issues and topics to the fore, both in the interests of housebuilders themselves and the people who live in their properties. 

If nothing else, COVID-19 has provided the catalyst to reappraise a number of longstanding processes and procedure and explore different ways of doing things, from greater digital adoption to more effective ways of meeting Net-Zero 2050 targets. 

So, as we look towards a new year with fresh challenges and opportunities, we ask that all-important question, “What trends and topics do you think will drive housebuilders and developers in 2021?” 

Plastic Perceptions

“I predict that sustainability will rise back to the top of the agenda in 2021. Recently we’ve seen a worrying amount of virgin plastic flood back into the market and indications are, as the fossil fuel industry looks to mitigate the impact of electric vehicles and green energy, production is on the increase. This urgently needs to be halted and reversed.”

“Housebuilding has a poor legacy when it comes to dealing with waste plastic and more effort/investment needs to be made into reusing and repurposing this material. Landfill’s no longer an option and, where we can, we need to find low-impact, practical solutions for what we can recycle.

“We’ll see more sustainable systems, fixtures, fittings and components which make use of recyclable plastic and its many advantageous properties coming online. However, it all starts with the specifier. They must step up in earnest and make a better business case for green construction, so far we’ve had a lot of talk, now we need action, especially if we have any hope of meeting our 2050 net-zero targets.” – Charlie Ayers, Managing Director, SureCav

Get Yourself Connected

“COVID-19 has sparked a digital revolution in the housebuilding industry and we’re now seeing emerging, and existing, technology more readily embraced where once it was met with less enthusiasm. I expect we’ll see more advanced, fully-integrated site management software launching to offer a fully collaborative construction journey in real-time. 

2Equally, improved broadband and wireless will deliver better connectivity, making sites more efficient and easier to operate through faster data sharing, fewer outages and lower lag times.” – PJ Farr, Managing Director, UK Connect

The Great Outdoors

 “The back garden will become an extension of the living room. Not only will we see homeowners and landlords undertake renovation work to ‘evergreen’ these outdoor spaces, we’ll also see architects and developers give more careful consideration on how to enhance these areas. This will add value for the resident and allow the vendor to upsell on new features such as smart tech, outdoor heating systems and quality furniture, packaged up as part of the sale or rental package.”

“Landscaped communal areas will no doubt be reappraised in both new builds and existing properties. Coronavirus will prompt layout changes to limit close proximity and, no doubt, instigate a rise in more comfortably furnished, sheltered and sustainably heated areas where small groups can gather outdoors in a low-risk setting. Further lockdowns next year might also encourage the specification and installation of lower maintenance features, including hardy plants which do not require regular feeding and high-resistance, resin-based surfaces for walkways.” – Matthew Fagg, Brand Manager, Barlow Tyrie

Modern Methods

“Modular construction is also set to play a bigger role in the coming years. We need to start seeing construction as more of an assembly process if the government is to meet the growing demand for new homes. 

“One way to think about it is like Lego for the real-world, you have lots of standard bricks but they can be put together in so many ways to create something unique. At the heart of it are uniform components that will allow us to build much more quickly.” – Richard Waterhouse, Chief Strategy Officer, NBS

Well, it looks as if 2021 will be a year full of transformation as the industry evolves and adapts to embrace new technology, methods of construction and more sustainable approaches to business. 

What is clear, whereas 2020 was a year of considerable talk, the coming one needs to have a big spring in its step if we’re to bring those grand visions to life.