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The Future of House building in the UK

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Thursday 6th February, 2020

Are concrete bricks the future of housebuilding in the UK?

It has been widely reported that the UK is currently in the midst of a housing shortage. The current government target means that around 300,000 new homes need to be built every year until 2025 in order to meet the current shortfall. At current building rates, that leaves a deficit just short of 100,000 homes per annum.  If certain sectors of the media are to be believed, the number needed to truly meet demand is far in excess of that figure.

So what is stopping us from reaching the housebuilding target? Sure, the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit is of course is a factor. However, the issue goes a little wider than that. In a recent NHBC Housing market survey, labour shortages and planning delays were some of the most important hurdles to overcome, but material availability was also cited as one of the most significant major constraints on the production of new house builds. In essence, without access to the materials needed, that government target is going to be a challenging one to meet.

With bricks being a major component of the majority of new house builds across the UK it is safe to say that some of those material  constraints have been caused  by a well-documented and significant brick shortage in the UK over the past few years. This shortage has resulted in an increasing number of bricks being imported from Europe in order to meet the growing demand.  Over 2.4 billion bricks were used in the UK during 2018, but only 1.9 billion of those bricks were manufactured in the UK. This means we are importing a significant number of bricks at a higher cost and with a higher carbon footprint to satisfy current demands, never mind meet targets.

Whilst some of the reason for these specific house brick imports is down to specific colours and textures which aren’t available using the indigenous clay in the UK, some of the imports are purely to supplement increased demand.

But what if there was another solution? A solution for house bricks that are  made in the UK, readily available in a variety of colours, textures and finishes to suit all traditional and contemporary styles, without compromising on quality, strength, durability or aesthetics? What about if that solution was more cost-effective, equally as easy to install and had a significantly reduced carbon footprint than its clay counterpart?

Step forward the concrete brick… a tried and tested alternative to clay for many years, and the future, we believe, for housebuilding in the UK

At Marshalls, we are Europe’s leading supplier of sustainable concrete facing bricks and have been producing concrete bricks in the UK for over 60 years. We manufacture at a number of sites across England, Scotland and Wales and offer full national coverage and distribution.

There are a number of myths surrounding the advantages and disadvantages of concrete bricks in house building, and we’re keen to help the industry understand the truth. Over the past ten years there have been major advancements in concrete brick production technology. Better quality of pigment, giving the brick colour fastness and longevity. Improved mix designs to give strength and durability. The introduction of perforated concrete facing bricks, dramatically reducing the weight. Advancements in texture and secondary processing techniques and a variety of different colour alternatives, which aren’t just determined by the colour of natural material available in the area.

It is safe to say concrete bricks have fast become just as good (if not- whisper it quietly- better) than their clay alternatives. And at a fraction of the cost…

Over the next few weeks and months we will be writing a number of further posts exploring many of the topics highlighted in this blog. We’ll be introducing new case studies, installation advice and techniques, videos, testimonials as well as exploring the low carbon credentials of our Marshalls Bricks and Masonry concrete bricks.

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