Earlier this week I enjoyed some hospitality courtesy of a switched on planning advisor. Most enjoyable company. As tends to happen at these things I got to chatting with some of the other guests. There was a real mix of backgrounds and experience with the connecting factor being property.
Speaking to a land agent and a housebuilder the conversation turned to renewables. Specifically we were debating the use of renewables in new build residential developments. There was nothing particularly novel about the housebuilder’s take on things. In simple terms his view was threefold. Firstly, the building regulations don’t require the use of renewables. Secondly, even if you do offer to include renewables most buyers will be unwilling to pay the extra cost. Thirdly, valuers won’t put any real additional value on houses with renewables compared to those without.
None of this is any surprise; I heard similar comments 6 years ago when I first engaged with developers on the topic. However, I’m struck that things haven’t moved forward at all in the intervening period.
The general housebuilder’s view seems to be a mix of inertia, customer prejudice and hard finances.
Inertia in that if I don’t have to do it I’ll not bother.
Customer prejudice in that there’s an assumption customer’s don’t take long term affordability into account.
Hard finances in that if the valuers don’t take account of extra cost associated with renewables then the punters may simply not be able to afford them whether they want it or not.
This may sound as though I’m critical of developers. That would be wrong. They have to sell into the markets they operate in.
However, I firmly believe that there is the opportunity for a developer somewhere to grasp the challenge renewables present, to be truly innovative and to take mainstream housebuilding down a truly renewable avenue.
Post-script: I wonder if the argument that renewables cost more really stacks up …
As always, comments, compliments or criticisms are welcome on twitter or linked-in