Since the home improvement boom of the 1990s, we’ve definitely moved away from DIY towards GSI… or Get Someone In.
Many factors have caused this, but two key ones are finding the right help being made so much easier thanks to extensive reviews that can be found online, helping consumers avoid the much feared and media hyped cowboy builder.
“…thanks to the credit crunch and an ageing population, fewer people are moving and those who do, are doing so less often.”
Secondly, people tend to spend most on home improvements when they move but, thanks to the credit crunch and an ageing population, fewer people are moving and those who do, are doing so less often. For example, Hometrack estimate that people move today once every 21 years, rather than the 15-year average of the 1980s.
Revival in the market
In 2016 there was a little revival in the major home improvement market, with planning applications for the residential market, such as extensions, loft conversions and conservatories increasing in England by 2% from 50,400 decisions in the final quarter of 2015 to 51,500 in the same quarter in 2016.
“The question is whether people will look to do more jobs themselves or continue to ‘get someone in’.”
And a recent survey from Velux suggests that Brexit has certainly not dampened people’s desire to carry out works. According to the 2017 survey, “nearly six in ten (59%) of the UK’s homeowners are planning to carry out home improvements worth £50.89bn¹ over the next six months,” which is a 12% increase year on year, with a planned average spend of just under £5,000.
The question is whether people will look to do more jobs themselves or continue to ‘get someone in’. The biggest impact on this is likely to be the availability of trusted tradespeople in the run up to and following Brexit itself, followed by what happens to the cost of materials.
Will there be enough tradespeople?
It’s estimated that the construction industry could suffer from a loss of labour for several reasons. First of all, there is the uncertainty of whether people will be able to stay in this country or not. Latest statistics suggest we are already seeing a fall in migration following the referendum. According to a report in the Telegraph: “Immigration from ‘EU8’ states - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - was down by 25,000 to 48,000, while emigration increased by 16,000 to 43,000 last year.”
With the construction industry supplying 10% of all employment in the UK – 3m jobs in total – and a large proportion of these being from EU member states, a loss of professionals from the sector is sure to have an impact. With plans to build more homes and large infrastructure projects, the question is will there be enough tradespeople to service the residential home improvement market too?
The choice between adding value and moving house
Even if there are, the cost of construction may well rise. According to Monika Slowikowska, founder of Golden Houses Developments, “By leaving the EU, we predict that [labour costs] could increase by an extra 15 to 20 per cent.”
It is also true that costs of materials may well be on the increase. Although many raw materials can be sourced domestically, other countries we source large amounts of building materials from include Germany, Italy and Sweden – all EU countries – so if we lose free movement of people as well as materials, this could definitely impact on costs of getting work done.
And, if the government is successful at building more homes, with lower house price inflation expected, it may be that the balance of adding value to a property versus moving house may swing back towards trading up.
Read more from industry expert, Kate Faulkner, about how Brexit will impact the UK housing market.
Kate Faulkner is one of the UK’s leading property experts. Kate produces independent property prices and rent reports, working with forward thinking companies to educate and inform consumers on carrying out property projects successfully. Kate co-hosts LBC’s Property Hour, is a BBC5Live midnight expert and regularly appears on the BBC, ITV, in The Telegraph, writing blogs for magazines such as Period Ideas.