Speaking at this year’s Housing Market Intelligence (HMI) conference in London housing minister Kit Malthouse has dramatically warned housebuilders not to become “the Kodaks” of the industry, referencing film forerunner Kodak’s perceived slowness in recognising the impact of digital photography which culminated in the firm filing for bankruptcy protection in the US in 2012.
The HMI conference this year aims to bring together experts from all aspects of the industry with the goal of making sense of the economic and political outlook facing the new homes industry and Malthouse made his views clear by suggesting that if the housing sector does not see more innovation then firms run the risk of becoming obsolete, and that on site “not much had changed since 1985.” Malthouse continued: “Technological change will come to this industry through MMC, offsite, changes in plumbing and electrical methods and robotic bricklayers,” he said. “Innovation is coming - I would urge you to grasp it. You cannot allow yourselves to become the Kodaks of housebuilding.”
Malthouse also took the opportunity to thank the housebuilding industry for doing “remarkably well” in increasing housing supply and also outlined the government’s plans for building “more, better, faster.” He also called on the industry to deliver because of moral duty, not just for commercial reasons: “I hope future generations will look back at a golden age of housebuilding.”
Throughout the day speakers at the conference voiced their opinions on the house building sector with Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable commenting that the industry was lagging behind on “industrialisation” and offered criticism of Help to Buy which he said, “would almost certainly be discontinued.”
Also at the conference, as a voice of the house building sector, Barratt CEO David Thomas took the opportunity to highlight the progress the industry had made in recent years, defended Help to Buy and stressed that housebuilders recognise the need for more offsite and innovation, however he offered a warning by saying companies are “claiming solutions for the challenges without having proven capability - they are running before they can walk and claiming the gold medal.”