Online estate agency Tepilo takes a closer look at who builds the majority of new homes in Britain.
Who builds Britain's homes?
When thinking about house building in Britain, most people will probably conjure up only a few familiar names. And that’s not surprising: housebuilding in this country is dominated by a small number of large firms.
As we outlined in our previous blog, Britain differs from other countries in Europe – such as Germany – by having much less of a reliance on small and medium-sized housebuilders. Instead, it’s all about the big beasts.
If a new home is being built in the UK, there is a good chance it’s a Barratt home. According to the latest completion figures, Barratt Developments have built 16,477 homes so far in 2016. The company, which was originally founded in 1958 by Laurie Barratt, builds all types of new homes throughout the UK and is rated as a 5 Star Housebuilder by the Home Builders Federation (otherwise known as the “voice of the home building industry”).
Not far behind in terms of completion figures, but less well-known, is Persimmon Homes (13,509 homes so far this year). Named, would you believe, after a horse which won the 1896 Epsom Derby, Persimmon was founded in 1972 by Duncan Davidson, the grandson of the 15th Duke of Norfolk. He helped, over time, to expand it into one of the UK’s largest housebuilding businesses. It now aims to provide thousands of new homes every year in over 400 locations nationwide.
Third in the list of the UK’s top 10 housebuilders, and another familiar name, is Taylor Wimpey (12,454 completions in 2016). The company was formed by the merger of George Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow in 2007. As one of the largest UK homebuilders, the firm has 24 regional offices across England, Scotland and Wales, as well as operations in Spain.
The research shows that the top three – Barratt Homes, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey – build the majority of the UK’s new homes, but there are other companies who have a significant stake in the housebuilding sector.
Bellway, which has been operating for nearly 70 years and has its central headquarters based in Newcastle upon Tyne, is another of the UK’s largest housebuilders (7,752 completions), with a wide range of new homes available all over the country.
You may also have heard of Redrow, first formed by a then 21-year-old Steve Morgan in 1974. The company has built 4,022 new homes in 2016, while Bovis Homes has completion figures of 3,635. The Berkeley Group, meanwhile, has been around since 1976 and is one of the UK’s most established and best-respected housebuilders. Their aim is not just to build homes, but neighbourhoods.
Galliford Try, Crest Nicholson and Leicestershire-based Bloor Homes make up the top 10, with all of these companies completing more than 2,000 homes this year.
Even in the top 10 housebuilders list, though, things are very top-heavy. This raises legitimate concerns about Britain’s housebuilding being in the hands of too few companies. In recent years housebuilders have been criticised for not building enough new homes, building too slowly and sitting on land to help increase its value.
While the housebuilders will provide a number of valid reasons for this – and it’s certainly not the housebuilders themselves who should be held responsible for the issues in the UK housing market – there could definitely be an argument made that too much power and influence lies in the hands of the big housebuilding companies who build the majority of our homes.
In Germany, for example, small and medium-sized housebuilders have far more of a say in things, which means that Germany has been able to build more homes than the UK in the last 50 years. It has also built more affordable homes.
In their attempts to explore ways in which the housing crisis can be eased, the government may look for inspiration elsewhere and seek to spread the housebuilding load a little bit thinner. For the foreseeable future, though, it looks as if the established housebuilding firms will continue to build the majority of new homes.
That on its own is no bad thing. These companies, after all, wouldn’t have become so established and respected if they didn’t know what they were doing. However, with a pressing need for more homes – and fast – nothing should be left off the table when it comes to getting Britain building.