Brick and labour shortages are exacerbating the housing crisis, we need to be looking for sustainable solutions
The scale of brick shortages and skilled workers in the UK has significant implications for us all – a key concern being the further exacerbation of the UK’s housing crisis. Shortages have caused costs to skyrocket and with this the viability of many building schemes are at risk, particularly in locations where there are large gaps between supply and demand, and no more so than in London.
So what is the solution to the problem? One can talk about apprentice schemes and immigration but should we also be debating the selection of the building materials themselves? Bricks make up a large part of the British landscape. It is evident in London in the composition of the terraced houses in Barnes and Putney which I pass on my commute and the growing developments around Wandsworth and Vauxhall. Our commitment to this product with its strength and durability has been a feature of British building for centuries.
British universities are at the forefront of research and development when it comes to alternative building materials. Not only are these innovative solutions, but many provide key sustainable solutions.
But is there scope for us to now show how building materials have evolved and developed and begin using them regularly? The pressures we see now on the supply chain requires us to look more closely at how we build, and the materials with which we build including the likes of self-healing concrete, vacuum-based glazing, 3D printed ceramic bricks, smog eating concrete, algae power and engineered timbre frames to name a few.
British universities are at the forefront of research and development when it comes to alternative building materials. Not only are these innovative solutions, but many provide key sustainable solutions. It is certainly an area that the Buildings & Construction team at JLL is looking at more closely and one that I think we should all discuss with our clients and project teams.
Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown that brick producers have increased production by 7% compared to 2014 as a response to swelling demand. While we should be digging deeper into alternative construction materials, particularly of an eco-friendly nature, it is great to hear that our humble and reliable friend is fighting back.
Helen Gough is head of JLL’s Buildings & Construction team