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 06-08 March 2018 / ExCeL, London


Monday 3 July by: Ecobuild
The rites of passage from the home of your parents/guardians to acquiring the keys and deeds of your own dwelling has now become an unachievable aspiration. Renting a flat or house is one thing but owning a home nowadays is altogether a different matter. This lowly outlook can be turned about by thinking creatively and by incorporating something revolutionary - involve the masses. If the general public is of the view that owning a home is the best way to secure not just a roof over their heads but a large pot of investment for their retiring tomorrows then why not ensure that their participation in the process is wholly inclusive? Bring about the change in this stuttered voyage and charge up the engines of that vehicle often used to propel a redevelopment by robustly changing the energy in the system called: Community Engagement. If the youth of today are aspiring towards home ownership then is it not right that they should be a part of the planning and building? If the nation’s families are desiring up to date homes that perform better under the inclement weather we have on these isles then is it not right that their learned experiences are factored into the scheme too? Year in year out we mass build homes which underperform and if output (1) is expected to fall 0.8% in 2017 before sharper falls of 3.6% and 2.0% in 2018 and 2019 respectively then we need to address this immediately. This does not mean we should build hurriedly instead we should look towards the resources that Mother Nature has given us and which is in abundance. We have enough straw in this country to build the homes we need and as a material it performs at a much higher level than any other resource. There is no mould growth or condensation in a home built with strawbale which is due to the hygroscopic properties of clay and lime plasters and paints, and it has the ability to absorb excess moisture in the air and to release it as humidity levels drop. The movement of Natural Building Materials also has a different outlook towards construction and if there is a shortage of tradesmen and women for this type of build then look at the example of the nation’s leading exponents of this: Straw Build and Straw Works, for example. Homemakers are encouraged to get involved on site and are trained with experts in the craft of building naturally. Affordability is a major benefit too when considering costings as a 2 bedroom house built this way will cost around £60,000 instead of a generically contracted build which will cost around £130,000. All round it is a win win. Change the current model and empower the public to live in the homes they want. The saying ‘teach a man to fish..’ is as close as you can get to this and the Do It Yourself movement of the 1970s ran with this with aplomb, yet we have gone backwards. Why build homes that do not allow us to breathe especially when faced with internal pressures such as overcrowding? In some of the country’s largest housing schemes (specifically in a highly densified area such as the South East) homes are very much underperforming due to negligence with regards to compliance (2) and our increasingly self imposed need to be frugal. Residents opt towards the temptations of consumerism and neglect the warnings about health and wellbeing by staying indoors and as a result raise the risks of damp and condensation and the impact of such reactions in these dwellings. At the ASBP Healthy Buildings Conference & Expo 2017 Ian Mawditt of ‘Four Walls’ spoke of the need to adhere to such regulations and Circle Housing’s Orchard Village is an example of when mistakes are made and all in sundry are left reeling, red-faced. If the administrators want to save themselves a lot of pain in the future then they need to reconsider current plans. We say this because invariably they sign off planning permission to contractors to build and subsequently maintain homes which have little in the way of longstanding substance and within this an infrastructure that has little in the way of the high levelled integrity necessary. Craftsmanship has been eradicated for the sake of brevity and with it the lowering of everyone’s wellbeing. Build better. See SBUK and a host of natural building materials suppliers at Ecobuild 7-9 March on stand F209. Follow them at (1) CPA Construction Forecasts (February 2017) (2) Domestic Ventilation Compliance Guide, 2010.
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