The Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) House Builders’ Survey aims to build a clearer picture of the constraints facing small and medium-sized (SME) house builders in England.
This year’s report shows that access to land, the planning system and access to finance remain key structural barriers for SME house builders, however, the last year has seen an easing in these barriers. Less positively, buyer demand has seen a significant drop and is now at a five-year low.
Key findings of the report:
• Small house builders report current buyer demand (out of 5) at 2.9, down from 3.14 last year, and this is expected to fall further to 2.75 next year;
• Almost half (48%) of small house builders attribute the fall in buyer demand to a lack of consumer confidence;
• The four main barriers to SME house builders (availability of land, planning departments, access to land and access to skills) all improved over the past year;
• Access to land remains the top barrier with almost half (43%) of builders citing this as the top barrier, down from 59% in 2018;
• The planning system remains the second major barrier to small house builders, with 42% of firms reported this as a barrier down from 51% in 2018. The main reason being the ‘inadequate resourcing of planning departments’;
• More than one third of small house builders (39%) say access to finance is a major barrier to their ability to build more new homes, the lowest percentage since the survey began eight years ago. However, reported concerns about the level of loan refusals are at their highest in three years; and
• Those reporting a shortage of skilled workers fell from almost half (44%) to one quarter (26%).