News: 1000,s of homes could be added to housing stock

Thousands more homes could be brought onto to the market if a research project into the way developers tackle renovation can be acted upon.

The Building Research Establishment is carrying out an extensive survey into the technical, economic, environmental and social implications of retaining homes built in the UK between 1840 and 1914.

The outcome could have far-reaching effects on the UK housing market. The survey will inform developers’ decisions on whether and how to renovate Victorian and Edwardian houses. It will also enable comparison between the costs and benefits of renovating homes and demolishing them to build afresh.

Tim Yates, project director said: "Renovating and refurbishing older housing stock involves more complex decision making than might be immediately apparent. As well as being economically viable to restore, the resulting homes need to be energy efficient and easy to maintain. They need to be located in areas where people want to live and where there are adequate transport links and social infrastructure such as shops and schools."

"In short, there is no simple answer as to whether refurbishment or renewal is the best option. Much depends on circumstances and the answer is likely to be different according to how the various issues stack up. What our project will do is provide a standard methodology which will make comparisons and decision making much easier."

The main focus of the BRE survey will be on sustainability, both in terms of the materials and technologies used for renovation and refurbishment and the on-going economic and environmental effects of living in the houses after refurbishment.

Heating, lighting and sanitation, for example, will have to meet or exceed the best modern standards.

Dr Peter Bonfield, managing director of BRE’s Construction Division, which is hosting the research project, said: "The renewal or refurbishment debate is important for the UK economy. It will determine how the UK’s future housing stock is provided."

The Sustainable Refurbishment of Victorian and Edwardian Houses report will be available from the BRE Trust in July 2006

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