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Ash4781

Is A Shortage Of Bricks Killing British House Building? Nonsense, Say Brickmakers

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Farcical that houses are still built with this stuff after a century of tech advance.

I like to compare it to building a rowing boat by gluing together a whole load of lolly sticks.

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Houses have to bought, in the majority, with borrowed funds because they are massively overpriced. The lenders will readily lend on homes constructed from brick. So we're stuck with them.

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IM sure there will be no shortage of bricks flying through estate agent windows when then banks default. Might be worth investing in glass too :)

I'm stockpiling.

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Although it still seems odd to be building with bricks and mortar what are the real alternatives? Due to my love of Channel 4 aspirational documentaries (don't hate me) I had always been a fan of kit houses that were built in factories such as the huf haus and their cheaper mass market equivalents. They promised to be built to a higher specification and tolerance with far greater quality control, all the electrical work and plumbing could be installed and tested at the factory and they could be assembled on site with semi skilled labour etc. In theory this should lead to cheaper build costs.

However then by accident I stumbled across a brilliant documentary by Adam Curtis called Inquiry: The Great British Housing disaster which was broadcast in 1984. In this he details the failure of the pre-fab system built concrete housing built in a rush in the 50s and 60s. At the time this was promised to be built to a higher specification and tolerance with far greater quality control, all the electrical work and plumbing could be installed and tested at the factory and they could be assembled on site with semi skilled labour etc. .....I realised that I had heard all the arguments for modern kit houses before and they'd been proven wrong over 30 years ago, the system built housing failed mainly due to a lack of quality control throughout the manufacturing and assembly processes.

I appreciate a Huf Haus is very expensive and will have much greater quality control than a 60s system built tower block. But how do we guarantee that large scale house building using modern system built housing would be able to meet the required quality requirements? They didn't set out to fail in the 50s and 60s its just circumstances overtook them. Wouldn't the same be true today?

I've put a link to the documentary below, it's ~50 minutes long but well worth the watch.

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But how do we guarantee that large scale house building using modern system built housing would be able to meet the required quality requirements? They didn't set out to fail in the 50s and 60s its just circumstances overtook them. Wouldn't the same be true today?

The problem is where the incentives lie. The 50s and 60s builders had no incentive to go for quality, they just wanted to throw stuff up because it wasn't going to be them living in those houses and the eventual occupiers had no input into the build.

If you are self-building you have a huge incentive to make sure something decent gets built for you. You can read reviews, you can read forums, you can read consumer magazines etc.

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The problem is where the incentives lie. The 50s and 60s builders had no incentive to go for quality, they just wanted to throw stuff up because it wasn't going to be them living in those houses and the eventual occupiers had no input into the build.

If you are self-building you have a huge incentive to make sure something decent gets built for you. You can read reviews, you can read forums, you can read consumer magazines etc.

I agree when self builders are building individual units for themselves they can insist on high quality standards as they have a relationship with the factory/builder and can carry out their own checks during construction. My question was how could quality be assured if mass produced kit houses were produced and assembled to replace traditional brick buildings. People were complaining that mass market house building hasn't changed for over 100 years. As far as I can see there was an attempt after the second world war to use mass produced system built concrete housing. This failed due to poor quality control which is one of the reasons its hard/impossible to get a mortgage on a prefab house these days. Even the houses and tower blocks built in the 50s and 60s was lived in by the assemblers. It was meant to be assembled by unskilled/semi-skilled labour who would then go on to live there. There are some quite disturbing interviews in that documentary where the builders stated that the concrete panels didn't line up on site so they couldn't get the all the bolts in. This was then hidden when concrete was poured over the joints.

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I agree when self builders are building individual units for themselves they can insist on high quality standards as they have a relationship with the factory/builder and can carry out their own checks during construction. My question was how could quality be assured if mass produced kit houses were produced and assembled to replace traditional brick buildings. People were complaining that mass market house building hasn't changed for over 100 years. As far as I can see there was an attempt after the second world war to use mass produced system built concrete housing. This failed due to poor quality control which is one of the reasons its hard/impossible to get a mortgage on a prefab house these days. Even the houses and tower blocks built in the 50s and 60s was lived in by the assemblers. It was meant to be assembled by unskilled/semi-skilled labour who would then go on to live there. There are some quite disturbing interviews in that documentary where the builders stated that the concrete panels didn't line up on site so they couldn't get the all the bolts in. This was then hidden when concrete was poured over the joints.

I'm not sure there's any way to get centralised mass housebuilding to deliver quality, which is a shame as it seems to be the main/only housing policy of both Con and Lab. Would you trust the State to order 2 million cars? Me neither.

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