Carve out your USP as the construction industry heads back to work
As the construction sector makes its way back to site, property developers will need to promote their differences, advises Carrie Arnold of Bridge Insurance Brokers.
The government is set to announce a phased return to work across the UK and understandably the construction industry is at the forefront, in order to rebuild and refocus the economy.
According to trade body Build, 70% of its members are now back at work. Major builders such as Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Mace are among those returning to site, albeit working under new social distancing measures (which are outlined here). And while it is acknowledged that output will be at a lower level because of these social measures, there are other challenges to consider as construction picks up again.
Manchester, where we are based, has seen a building boom over the last few years, with development running well above the national average (10 times the national average in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics). A city centre population that has increased by 184% since 2004 has driven a number of high-profile apartment, office and leisure buildings, and their construction has changed the skyline and culture forever.
Planning and design have still been progressing during lockdown, meaning that some sites are still on track while others are behind schedule. The challenge now, as those ‘paused’ sites become active again, could come be in the form of a bottleneck later this year, as developments that would have been completing in April and May all now complete together around September and October. Several sites in close proximity could all be going live at around the same time, creating a very competitive market – even more competitive than before.
Changes in approach
This could create a very interesting dynamic as new developers look to carve out a USP that sees their product stand out from the crowd. Nobody will want to compete on price so we could see more luxury finishes, high end partner collaborations and lifestyle incentivisations being introduced to attract buyers.
If you are a developer and your model changes midway through your build, with higher specifications and luxury add-ons to set yourself apart from your competitors, this will be very relevant to your insurance proposition. A higher value in the building, its fixtures and its contents will need to be considered, as would any increased security both during and post build.
Pre-COVID forecasts had 8,880 of the residential units under construction expected to deliver in 2020 and while the current forecasts are not clear yet, standout will be a must, come September.
Our experienced property team is on hand to steer developers through any changes to their plans as the industry heads back to work and to ensure that their developments are protected at the right level.
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