House building drops to lowest levels since Covid

8 November 2023

a red-brick house with a green for sale sign in front of it
  • New home registrations drop by more than half (53%) in Q3 2023, compared to Q3 2022.
  • Private sector new home registrations down 57% in Q3 2023, compared to Q3 2022.
  • Rental & affordable sector new home registrations down 43% in Q3 2023, compared to Q3 2022.
  • New homes completed down 15% in Q3 2023, compared to Q3 2022.
  • Bungalow registrations hit all-time low.

Figures released by the National House Building Council (NHBC), the UK’s largest provider of new home warranties and insurance, show the number of new homes registered fell by 53% in Q3 2023, compared to the same period last year, with the number of new homes completed falling by 15%.

A total of 20,680 new homes were registered in July, August and September 2023, compared to 44,153 in Q3 2022.

Steve Wood, CEO at NHBC said the slowdown in house building is mainly due to current economic conditions.

“House-building activity is a key indicator of the health of the UK economy. With stubbornly high interest rates, persistent inflationary pressures, an ineffective planning system and an increasingly complex regulatory environment, it is no surprise fewer homes are being built.

“Despite a significant decline in new home registrations in the quarter, the sector is fundamentally sound, with developers focused on completing existing projects.

“While consumer confidence has taken a knock over high mortgage rates and the increased cost of living, new home prices are generally holding up, in part because of incentivised sales.”

Larger housebuilders bolster sales with affordable and build to rent partnerships

Private sector registrations were hit hardest, down 57% on the same period last year (13,429 in Q3 2023 vs. 31,334 in Q3 2022). The rental and affordable sector saw a shallower decline with 7,251 registrations in Q3 2023, down 43% on the previous year (12,819).


Steve Wood, CEO at NHBC explained: “While private sector registrations have seen the biggest knock in the quarter, we are seeing several major house builders partner with Housing Associations and Build to Rent providers, re-focusing parts of their output on the affordable sector. This helps to address some of the demand for affordable homes, providing more options in the rental sector.

Across the UK, all regions saw a fall in new house registrations, apart from Northern Ireland which bucked the trend with a 52% uplift in registrations (1,258 in Q3 2023 vs. 826 in Q3 2022), following new registrations on some large-scale schemes.

The end for bungalows?

New bungalows have all but disappeared with only 228 registrations in Q3 2023, down 70% on the same period last year and the lowest figure recorded by NHBC in its 80-year history. Semi-detached homes saw the greatest number of registrations by house type, at 5,919 in Q3 2023 followed by detached homes (5,735) and apartments (5,393) respectively.

Steve Wood, CEO at NHBC added: “It is too early to say the bungalow is extinct. What we can see is they are certainly on the critically endangered list with economic and land pressures as well as changes in consumer demand contributing to a decline in their construction. Bungalows can be a more expensive option for both developers and buyers compared to two-storey homes.

“Traditionally seen as ideal retirement properties, the decreasing availability of bungalows is leading to new-build homes becoming more desirable for older people, with their modern layouts and increased energy efficiency.”

For further information, download the accompanying data booklet.

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