Firm expects to build 1,000 more homes than previously thought but warns on further cladding costs

Housebuilder Barratt has increased its volume expectations for the year despite seeing completions for the six months to 31 December drop on the previous year.

Reporting half year results, the business has said it now expects to build as many as 18,250 homes in the full year to June, around 1,000 up on last year and significantly ahead of the 17,856 reported in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

This is around 250 homes up on prior guidance and comes after reservations per site per week for the six month period rose to 0.79, up on the 0.77 the year before.

David Thomas - approved 2 - 2016[2]

Chief executive David Thomas is expecting the number of homes built this year to top its pre-pandemic figure

However, actual completions for the six months to December were down 11.1% to 8,067, when compared against the last financial year, which had benefitted from a surge in completions in the second half of 2020 in the immediate wake of the spring lockdown.

Barratt said the reduction in completions, which caused revenue to drop by 9.9% for the first half to £2.25bn, reflected a return to a more normal seasonal pattern, where higher completion levels are expected in the second half of the financial year.

The firm said it increased its operating margin to 19.3%, despite rising build cost inflation, and reported overall pre-tax profit for the six months of £433m, up 0.6%.

The firm also said that net private reservations per site per week for January were running at 0.90, 16.9% above the 0.77 rate in the equivalent period in 2021, “reflecting continued strong demand”.

David Thomas, Barratt chief executive, said the firm had delivered “an excellent first half”, and that a “strong rebound in our construction activity” meant it would now build more homes than previously expected and more than “pre-Covid levels”.

However, Barratt said it wrote off a further £15.9m in the period to pay for “costs associated with legacy properties” and admitted that the government’s decision to call for housebuilders to contribute an extra £4bn to cladding remediation costs meant that “it is possible that further commitments may be made by the Group as work progresses or as Government legislation or regulations develop”.

It said that build cost inflation had run at about 5% in the first half of the year but that this was expected to rise further to around 7% in the second half of the financial year, which “reflects inflationary pressures across the economy and specific areas of building material cost inflation related to commodity input cost pressures and energy intensity”.

Barratt said that despite its recent acquisition of land trader Gladman, the firm would continue to operate as a separate entity within the group, supplying sites both to Barratt and to other housebuilders.