Over the past eight years a lot has changed in housing. Tougher building regulations have helped lift up the baseline, while innovations in products and skills have made a ‘zero net CO2 emissions’ home increasingly attainable.
The Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes has helped to achieve this but didn’t engage the public with the higher value agenda. Interestingly, the first iPhone came out at a similar time to when the first Code homes were completed. Back in 2007 a smart phone came with little more than a camera and a phone. Now, in 2015 they can control your heating, TV or music. You can order your dinner on them, follow sport or keep an eye on your car’s fuel efficiency. Smartphones aren’t for everyone – but most people need a home.
There is a supply issue, which the Government is trying to address, but it shouldn’t just be about numbers. With smartphones you have a choice – even with small budgets it is surprising what you can get. Why is this? Simply, it is because people demand it. Homes will always be different, as location and land will always be fixed. However, people should still have a choice, and be able to make comparisons on aspects of a home such as costs (energy, insurance, maintenance and potential mortgage), positive impacts on our health and wellbeing and environmental footprint. Furthermore we need to understand how our homes are going to be impacted by a changing climate, digital technology and demographic changes. Many developers are articulating the benefits of certain features of their homes to potential buyers but how can buyers verify the claims and compare one home against another?
BRE’s recently launched Home Quality Mark aims to address this by providing householders the tools to make the smart choice, with an independent brand that they can trust. Signs are that consumers have an appetite for this. In our recent survey with 500 users of web comparison portal www.moneysupermarket.com, 97% of respondents (over 500+) said they would welcome a quality mark for housing. Home builders also support its introduction – over 30 have signed up to pilot the mark because they know it will drive their business allowing them to differentiate themselves. Using a simple star rating the mark will give a householder clear indications of the home’s overall running costs, how it will protect their health and wellbeing, its resilience to flooding and overheating and its environmental footprint. It will demonstrate how digitally connected a home is to support people over their lifetime. It will help everyone understand the long term quality and performance of a new build home. It is our long term goal that the Home Quality Mark will become the de facto sign of a better home For further information go to www.homequalitymark.com