UK Standards of Construction – attn molgrips

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  • UK Standards of Construction – attn molgrips
  • Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I don’t disagree that my house isn’t that well built.

    But in the UK land is very expensive and there’s a lot of pressure to keep costs down, isn’t there?

    TooTall
    Member

    The corner-cutting by the builder is then paid for many times over by the occupant in excessive heating bills. There is no incentive for the builder to do a half-decent job because they don’t suffer the consequences.
    Proper standards that protect the occupant need enforcing.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    I have no basis other than instinct, and having watched my father and uncle build around me as I grew up in Canada, to say anything, but what you have posted, TooTall, appears to confirm what I have thought since moving to the UK.

    The building industry here seems reluctant to deploy techniques and materials used elsewhere to greater effect to increase efficiency and durability. On top of that, councils and planning requirements seem to prohibit the construction of anything other than faux-Georgian repeats, which means that genuinely efficient homes just never get built.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    The corner-cutting by the builder is then paid for many times over by the occupant in excessive heating bills

    My heating bills are pretty low, despite being a new build cheapo house. I am not sure it’s as bad as you think nowadays.

    Of course – a full on eco house would probably not have cost much more…

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    I used to test sound insulation in new buildings, e.g. between flats. It’s a good indication of build quality. The failure rate was around 30-40%.

    I believe it was because build quality had become so poor that sound insulation testing was introduced.

    mrben100
    Member

    dmorts – Member
    I used to test sound insulation in new buildings, e.g. between flats. It’s a good indication of build quality. The failure rate was around 30-40%.

    What if the build quality was good but the wrong products had been specified by the designer? i.e. not giving correct overall mass, separating strips between finishes etc.

    TooTall
    Member

    When I said that construction in the UK was of a relatively poor standard on another thread it was questioned.

    This, whilst not being an academic study, is an interesting article from someone who does have a valid view of it:

    http://www.aecb.net/publications/we-must-change-our-disgraceful-approach-to-build-quality-or-wave-goodbye-to-energy-savings/

    wrightyson
    Member

    On which type of projects in general? If housing then yes, varying differences in quality enforced by the pc. Bricklaying subbies I use are a big outfit and work for plenty of different firms. The lads who come on my jobs will always whinge about working for bellway homes for instance as they have you pointing both sides of the block work as it goes up. Yet other firms are just “chuck it up” as fast as possible. I genuinely think bricklaying was one of the trades to suffer the most from poor quality Eastern European “tradesman” as they caused the prices to be hammered down therefore causing the rest to again “chuck it up”.
    I’ll now go and read the link whilst I should be out there keeping an eye on the lads on site 😉

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    The corner-cutting by the builder is then paid for many times over by the occupant in excessive heating bills. There is no incentive for the builder to do a half-decent job because they don’t suffer the consequences.

    Indeed and on a micro level -try explaining to a sparky why he cannot punch holes all over the house and pull any insulation out, or a bricky why the less than perfect straightness or location of doors causes a hassle for more trades down the line etc.
    On the German site I went to, four lads built the whole house from day 1 to handing over the keys. If they did something awry, THEY had to fix it. Ergo, fewer problems.

    b r
    Member

    The building industry here seems reluctant to deploy techniques and materials used elsewhere to greater effect to increase efficiency and durability.

    This.

    I use to work for a cement/concrete/building products business and it was quite an eye-opener to visit some house construction sites in Germany vs here.

    In Germany we made walls, floors and roofs prefab in factories then shipped them in. I remember asking here why we didn’t do the same and it was mentioned that our ‘trades’ couldn’t deal with new techniques plus rare onsite to have machinery capable of handling large pieces.
    Also when they’d tried the prefab approach lots of damage was occurring to the pieces – mainly due to bad handling, usual wastage and poor development management. This then caused ongoing problems with the buildings – mainly damp.

    100mphplus
    Member

    I’m a Civil Engineer and these ‘generic’ swipes really P me off as you are only talking about 1 small aspect of ‘Construction’, i.e. house building.

    The UK are leaders in other, major, areas of Construction, always looking for innovation to drive costs down.

    T1000
    Member

    100mphplus +1

    not to forget Safety and BIM…..

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    What if the build quality was good but the wrong products had been specified by the designer? i.e. not giving correct overall mass, separating strips between finishes etc.

    The incorrect spec did cause failures but nowhere near as many as poor workmanship and not following the spec in the first place.

    The UK are leaders in other, major, areas of Construction, always looking for innovation to drive costs down.

    This is also a very valid point

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    100mphplus – Member

    I’m a Civil Engineer and these ‘generic’ swipes really P me off as you are only talking about 1 small aspect of ‘Construction’, i.e. house building.

    The UK are leaders in other, major, areas of Construction, always looking for innovation to drive costs down.

    I am not doubting you, but can you provide some examples? I am not an engineer (obviously), but my f-i-l is a structural engineer and my brother an architect, and both express deep frustration with many aspects of the British approach to building. And not just the construction end of things.

    BlindMelon
    Member

    I’ve seen poor workmanship on all sectors of construction, not just housing. All contractors are looking to get finished as quickly as possibly and keep costs down. I feel that very few are actually keen to do as good a job as possible.

    Often when issues occur the attitude is how can it be covered up until we get off site, then it is another persons problem.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    always looking for innovation to drive costs down.

    Might have been a more valid point if they were always looking for innovation to increase quality.

    TooTall
    Member

    I’m a Civil Engineer and these ‘generic’ swipes really P me off as you are only talking about 1 small aspect of ‘Construction’, i.e. house building.

    I had originally been talking about house building. Would you have felt better if I’d put ‘house building’ instead of ‘construction’ in the title? Yes, there are some superb British built projects, but there are a load of gash ones too. I’ve spent more than a few years in the civils world as well and I’ve seen both.

    However, UK house building is, overall, crap. Blaming immigrant brickies for it is shameful as well.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Houses aren’t bought on quality though. That’s the issue.

    Premier Icon wonny j
    Subscriber

    Building and construction are different – especially if you’re involved in civils.

    But I work in a modern office build, designed to BREEAM Excellent and the standard of the construction is pretty damn poor. I can see gaps between the window frame and the window unit, and in the basement there are problems with the concrete and water ingress. Really shoddy construction/builders/subbies/designers/client – see circle of blame below:

    agent007
    Member

    You only have to go to Germany to realise how ‘prehistoric’ our house build standards are in the UK. Honestly, they are light years ahead over there.

    Houses in Germany/Austria/Switzerland are generally priced and sold on a per m2 basis rather than on the number of bedrooms it has as we do here in the UK (or number of bathrooms – see below). This leads to modern, open plan houses, with lots of natural light and flexible living space and a good level of storage. Whereas in the UK we have small windows, tiny rooms, little parking and no storage space.

    Went to see a new build near us recently. 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms – yes 4 bathrooms! (2 bedrooms had en-suites, a big family bathroom, plus a toilet and washroom downstairs). Yet all bedrooms were on the small side (as in you’d fit a bed in them but not much else) and there wasn’t a storage cupboard big enough to keep a bike inside anywhere. All for £345k – utter insanity 😯

    Some of the German pre-fab homes are particularly innovative. Assembled on site in days and because they are made in a well run factory, build tolerances and quality is top notch. It’s a real shame that people in the UK seem to prefer lots of tiny little rooms and fake Victorian features to proper, innovative and well designed flexible living space. Such a shame and a real missed opportunity.

    You can’t blame population density or land shortage either. Germany is almost as densely populated as the UK, and the Netherlands, who have a similar approach to housing to Germany has a population density approaching double that of the UK.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    It’s the pressure on housing that keeps the prices up rather than actual availability. Which means that buildable land is very expensive, therefore the developers have to keep costs down. Simple really.

    One of our biggest issues is that so much of our economy is concentrated around London and the SE.

    Re Germany – isn’t home ownership really low?

    st
    Member

    Rightly or wrongly I formed the opinion a while back that the driver behind UK housing is a box ticking exercise against a checklist for the prices bands. Generally including number of bedrooms, provision of en suite, downstairs loo, parking space, garage. Whether these are a tuly useable is less of a consideration so long as the house particulars stack up.

    In terms of wider construction it’s all down to cost and lack of drive to increase quality. I’m a quantity surveyor in construction and in my experience it all hinges around driving costs down to meet clients budgets, drivin costs down on site to help the contractor return a margin (reduce as loss at the moment) and everyone law in the suppl chain doing likewise. I can’t help feeling that there is also an attitude amongst many trades that they want the easiest route through the week to earn their money. It’s been amazingly refreshing to find sub contractors on site who go who e what I see as the norm to do a good job. *the same does to for site management too in terms of reinforcing quality work*

    agent007
    Member

    Re Germany – isn’t home ownership really low?

    Yes I think it’s about half the level of the UK, and many are happy to live in apartments. The difference I guess is that as a renter you are far more secure over there and renting is a viable long term option for families, whereas in the UK you can be given 2 months notice to ‘up sticks’ by your landlord. For that reason in Germany it’s normal to decorate a rented house/apartment as though it were your own.

    Also people don’t often buy houses until much later in life than we do here in the UK, where the media and all the clap trap property TV seem to have brainwashed plenty of insecure people into thinking that they are a complete failure if they don’t own their own home.

    I guess that’s why developers can flog low quality, shoebox homes as there’s so much pressure on people here to ‘buy at any cost’. If a developer tried to build a typical UK fake Georgian estate in Germany, (with windows and bedrooms the size of an average prison cell) they’d be laughed out of town.

    It’s the pressure on housing that keeps the prices up rather than actual availability. Which means that buildable land is very expensive, therefore the developers have to keep costs down. Simple really.

    Hmm, yes I suppose but lack of space is no excuse for poor quality, cramped homes. With the right design and architecture you can still create spacious, bright and airy homes with a small ground footprint – homes that stand out and that people would probably be prepared to pay a little extra for. Seems most contractors just go the lazy route though and are happy to create another ‘clone’ estate that in 20 years time will look dreadful.

    crikey
    Member

    low quality, shoebox homes

    Agree entirely with this. We moved house about 6 months ago and viewed a number of properties, from new builds through to listed buildings. The new stuff was soulless, nasty and so obviously built down to a price despite ticking the integral garage (too small for anything bigger than a Fiat 500), separate dining area and kitchen (both too small to either cook and eat), 4 bedrooms, one big enough for a double bed and nothing else, etc,

    wrightyson
    Member

    However, UK house building is, overall, crap. Blaming immigrant brickies for it is shameful as well.
    Woooaaahhh there I said the quality of brickwork has took a hammering due to the quality of workmanship that came into the trade with the massive influx of Eastern European brickies I work on sites every day and I can assure you from a fact based point of view, when I had lads on £1000/week 8/9 yrs ago the quality of work was far better than it is from the same lads who are now having to do more for £500/week. It’s just how it is “immigrants” or not!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    For that reason in Germany it’s normal to decorate a rented house/apartment as though it were your own.

    From what I found out when I was over there, people don’t tend to move around much, so the rental market is geared to long term lets. That’s a wider characteristic of society.. personally I like moving around!

    the media and all the clap trap property TV seem to have brainwashed plenty of insecure people into thinking that they are a complete failure if they don’t own their own home.

    I think this is 75% bollocks. I wanted to buy a house because I didn’t want my money lining someone else’s pockets, and I wanted to be able to do stuff do it. That’s all. I don’t really give a crap if people think I am a failure or not, and I suspect that’s the case for a lot of people.

    Hmm, yes I suppose but lack of space is no excuse for poor quality, cramped homes. With the right design and architecture you can still create spacious, bright and airy homes with a small ground footprint

    Well yeah that’s why there are so many three storey houses now. There’s only one two-storey house in the development on which I live out of.. I dunno.. 100 odd.

    donks
    Member

    I worked for a modular construction (off site) company for 8 years and we didn’t really make any housing accommodation. Timber framed and panalised systems were selling but not fully loaded boxes that just dropped together as these still had to be clad and have a roof etc put on so the savings were not as good as the developers wished for. Plus planning restrictions nailed us on many occasions as stacked up square boxes tended to be taller than traditional built houses and the architect tended to send out plans that modular builders could not achieve I.e fancy angles and obscure hip roof details etc. too many different house types were proposed also which meant your factory production line had to be set up for all these variants which was just not how the system is designed to work…. Fine for hotels just not 20 variants of house type. So until the industry and planners accept simple and repetitive house plans modular just doesn’t compete with traditional. Don’t even get me started on the complexities of trying to get plug and play services to just flawlessly work when the modules are installed on site. I guess the German machine is just better than ours?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I guess the German machine is just better than ours?

    Maybe machine is a good word for it.

    On my commute when I lived there the houses looked very very similar indeed, like they had all been made out of the same components. Perhaps they had! To the point where I was often not sure which village I was cycling through if I looked up from one of those road biking induced trances, you know the ones.

    RichPenny
    Member

    Woooaaahhh there I said the quality of brickwork has took a hammering due to the quality of workmanship that came into the trade with the massive influx of Eastern European brickies

    Yes you did

    from a fact based point of view, when I had lads on £1000/week 8/9 yrs ago the quality of work was far better than it is from the same lads who are now having to do more for £500/week.

    So the problem is that the same people are paid 50% less, and this has led to a reduction in quality? Because that actually reads like this issue is not with rubbish immigrants, but with house building companies cutting costs.

    grum
    Member

    from a fact based point of view, when I had lads on £1000/week 8/9 yrs ago the quality of work was far better than it is from the same lads who are now having to do more for £500/week.

    But surely the halving of labour costs for the developer will have been passed on to the consumer, right? 😐

    agent007
    Member

    personally I like moving around!

    Okay, but you’ve purchased a house in a fixed location . . .

    I think this is 75% bollocks. I wanted to buy a house because I didn’t want my money lining someone else’s pockets

    Very ironic considering that by buying your house you are actually lining the pockets of the land seller, the house builders, the estate agent, the insurance company, and your bank rather than that of your landlord.

    Horses for courses I guess and at least you own your house after 25 years – unless of course you have one of those interest only mortgages?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Very ironic considering that by buying your house you are actually lining the pockets of the land seller, the house builders, the estate agent, the insurance company, and your bank rather than that of your landlord.

    If you rent you do all that and get sod all at the end of it.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    So the problem is that the same people are paid 50% less, and this has led to a reduction in quality? Because that actually reads like this issue is not with rubbish immigrants

    Well of course – it’s a free labour market, so people (immigrants or otherwise) prepared to work for half the price is going to have a detrimental effect on quality. Which is why free markets aren’t always that great…

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    The only good thing about new-builds is that you’re never far from an electrical socket. 🙂

    wrightyson
    Member

    You can put whatever spin on it or accuse me of what you like, the facts and prices are there for all to see. A lot of the savings on labour have been lost due to increases in costs of materials. Don’t get me wrong the margins are still huge on a site of say 100 houses but I defy anyone to turn a good profit on a five house site nowadays.
    So therefore quality of finishes will suffer, you won’t get granite work tops etc etc.
    Insulation is an issue on every job, if you don’t “dog” the lads they will cut corners.
    Fwiw I finished a one off development just over 2 years ago, I scrutinised every aspect of the build, in fact bar the brick work and M and E I physically did the rest of the work. When pressure tested it achieved the best results a traditionally built house had ever been recorded at by the company doing the testing. So therefore it is possible if the care and time are taken, but it all comes down to cost…

    ebygomm
    Member

    Standards of construction

    http://www.mydavidwilsonhome.co.uk/

    🙂

    Don’t get me wrong the margins are still huge on a site of say 100 houses

    Persimmon must be doing something wrong round here then, they’re trying to remove section 106 contributions including affordable housing because otherwise they think the site isn’t viable. What other industries do you get to start something then half way through change the terms as you aren’t going to make as much money as you anticipated?

    b r
    Member

    I guess the German machine is just better than ours?

    As mentioned I worked in this industry, for RMC (a thoroughly British company) yet in Germany we made pre-fab pieces for houses plus owned Ytong, which produced houses from an aerated-concrete product.

    In Germany most houses are owner-built/specced as opposed to developer built. They also buy houses later in life (due to finances, late leaving education etc) and also accept that many folk will never own their own house, so its no big deal.
    Renting is more long-term, but also more highly controlled (such as if you get a job in another state you can leave your rented houses without paying a large ‘fine’ etc).

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Persimmon must be doing something wrong round here then, they’re trying to remove section 106 contributions including affordable housing because otherwise they think the site isn’t viable. What other industries do you get to start something then half way through change the terms as you aren’t going to make as much money as you anticipated?

    They’d want to remove section 106 regardless of how profitable the site is, as less ‘affordable homes’ means more profit, so I wouldn’t take what they say at face value. Look at their annual report to see how profitable they are.

    trail_rat
    Member

    Local flats by a large wellknown football club owner near where i live…..

    House warming party and a few folk in the kitchen ….. Floor colapses.

    How does he resolve it …..

    Maximum occupancy of 3 in the kitchen signs.

    As someone who grew up on building sites working with the family business , Modern houses are horrendously built – mostly to standard but those standards are low.

    I didnt even bother going to view new build show homes ….. I hate the whole stick the house at the front of the plot regardles of where the sun is ….. Also your back garden is inaccessable by anything other than foot and you get 2 parking spaces on most around here.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    My heating bills are pretty low, despite being a new build cheapo house.

    But you still have bills. We have the ability to barely need energy in many houses.
    Again, experience of the German sites was not more organised etc – they had two main differences:
    the tradespeople were multi-skilled and were respected as skilled by the wider community.
    They also arrived at 8:20, started work at 8:30, worked a proper day with site-wide two 15min tea breaks, proper 1hour for lunch, finish at 4:30 for a site-wide clear up for 20mins, then end of day plan and check the next day for 10mins and leave at 5pm. No messing, just good focused graft.

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