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Everything is awesome…Not

A plague on both your houses


Much of the talk around the UK leaving the EU has centered on whether or not thousands of people working in the UK at the moment will be able to continue, coming as they do from EU countries.

I can’t imagine that even this Government would be quite so stupid as to march thousands of nurses, doctors, waiters, baristas, , social workers, teachers, marketing managers, farm hands and construction workers – plus every other occupation you can think of – down the M20 and onto the ferry, always assuming they would be capable of even organising it in the first place.

However, the fact remains that there are some industries that have, for whatever reason, come to rely upon inward migration to fill their vacancies. And one of those industries is construction.

The shortage of skilled workers in all parts of this industry has been well documented and will continue to be so for, alas, it isn’t going away. Nor will it with any strict limitations on inward economic migration.

Skilled workers is what this industry needs if it is to get anywhere near building the number of homes this country needs. Building is not something you can just pull someone in from the street, give then a trowel, a pile of bricks and a bucket of mortar and tell them to build a house. This isn’t Lego, we’re not Emmet and everything isn’t awesome. You need skilled, trained workers, preferably with a few year’s mileage behind them; people who know what they are doing.

That requirement goes all the way through the chain of command by the way. There needs to be people at all levels who understand the importance of doing the job right in the first place.

Which leads me on to this story that appeared in my local paper yesterday.he-bought-a-dream-450-000-family-home-in-tunbridge-wells-and-it-could-have-killed-him

A 48year old man ended up being taken to hospital with a spinal injury, just the last in a series of problems that the new-build house had developed. I’ll let you read the entire thing for yourselves if you’re interested by the problems in the past year have included a kitchen flood on their first day, showers plumbed in backwards, non-flushing toilets, a ‘paddy field’ garden and both staircases needing to be ripped out. The injury that nearly killed him was a badly fitted stair carpet that slipped from beneath the guy’s feet, sending him hurtling downstairs and headfirst through a wall.

 Bovis Homes, too, have had to set aside £7million to sort out problems caused when thousands of their houses were built shoddily. It reduced their profit by 3%, down to £154.7m, which is practically destitution. Not.

How hard can it be to build a house properly, using decent materials that are widely available and still make yourself a reasonable profit margin?

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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