Housing for the Information Age

Housing for the

Information Age

Empowering consumers to drive change in the industry

A Housing Forum Working Group report

This is a report of work by the Housing Forum on the application of information-age digital technologies with the potential to improve the quality and value of housing by harnessing consumer pull. We propose a system of Home Performance Labelling to kick-start the process.

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Everyone is familiar with striking examples of how the digital age has transformed the consumer's experience. It's not just that demands made by better informed and more discerning customers have forced the pace of change: entrepreneurs have brought us innovations that are way ahead of anything consumers could have imagined to be possible, with smartphones and their multiple applications the most obvious example.

The world of property (being a world of investment and assets) might be exempt from the sort of pressure to differentiate products and innovate in the way cars or electrical goods might be, because demand quite outstrips supply. But this should not and cannot be an excuse for the industry to ignore the opportunities that the digital era brings, that have transformed the worlds of transportation, publishing and recorded music, for example, and that promise revolutions in many other aspects of daily life.

We have set out key proposals for driving this modernising agenda. Our next step is to help drive them forward. We aim to do this in a number of ways:

Lobbying Government and housing industry to put the case for mandatory Home Performance Labels to drive energy efficiency and more space, thus creating more consumer choice

The Housing Forum proposes a joint working group with RICS and the Building Societies Association to encourage and bring the advantages of labelling into the valuation methodology.

We also plan to submit evidence to a new independent Commission to look at the challenges facing the UK valuation profession chaired by former MP and Complaints Commissioner for ICE Futures and ICE Clearing, Dr Oonagh McDonald CBE.

We propose a Housing Forum backed research project to push forward with Building Information Modelling, but reinforce the need for better collaboration through the supply chain. BIM will only be effective if there is a sea change in the way the sector collaborates and shares information.

We intend to explore the development of a smartphone Apps for calculating whole home, whole life costs in use. Energy costs will rise inexorably and become increasingly important to consumers.