Posted 26 January 2016 - 02:58 PM
I wholeheartedly agree with your view, Tony. I suspect it is the way that the building industry is structured (or rather not structured) that is one of the main reasons for it being seen as conservative and slow to change.
Change pretty much always means investment, either it time to find out what's new, training staff to have the skills with new methods of construction, or cost in new tools and equipment.
There's a chicken and egg situation in building, because it's largely unstructured. Developers want houses built to a lowest cost per unit and don't employ building staff directly, so they are constrained by the capabilities of the building firms they can hire. Many building firms rely heavily on casual employment, so don't invest in training people, they rely on hiring in people. Sole traders and the self-employed (probably a fairly large percentage of actual building workers) don't ever know where the next job is coming from, so have neither the time nor money to invest in acquiring new skills that may not be needed for years.
Innovation seem to come from the smaller companies that employ staff directly and fill a niche in the market that the big boys aren't looking at. For new methods of construction with lower energy consumption there are really only two small markets; self-builders and some housing associations. Both are usually small scale developments of 1 to maybe 10 houses at most, so really outside the area of interest of the mass housing developers.
The final point is that there is no big market force to create any change. A lot of people like traditional-looking houses, and are more influenced by internal bling and the location of the house relative to schools and transport links than any other factor.
It creates a big problem for those who come up with innovative new methods of construction, as their potential market is pretty damned small until the product has gained acceptance by having been around for years.