Minister compares design-specification failures to motor industry of old

Communities minister Andrew Stunell has branded UK housing as a “joke” due to the industry’s failure to build houses to perform to their design specifications.

Speaking at a seminar at the Ecobuild conference in London, Stunell compared the UK housebuilding industry with the British car industry 20 years ago, saying
that new houses were “leaving the factory broken”.

In a seminar about how to meet the zero carbon homes challenge, Stunell said: “We need to make sure the commissioning [of new homes] is right. Twenty years ago the British car industry was a joke because cars were broken when they left the factory. British houses are still a joke because they leave the factory broken.

We need to have a Rolls-Royce or BMW approach to quality

Andrew Stunell, communities minister

“Maintenance and returns are still a big problem in the building industry - we need to be sure that when we say we’ve built something we actually have built it [as designed]. It’s a difficult job on a number of levels.”

When challenged afterwards on whether his comparison with the former British car industry was fair, he said: “We need to have a Rolls-Royce or BMW approach to quality. I’m asking why only a few builders have achieved this.”

The comments are not the first time that Stunell has raised questions about the actual performance of UK homes that have been designed to high sustainability specifications.

He has proposed that building performance should be signed off independently.