New House Building
In 2016-17, 17,078 new build houses were completed in Scotland, an increase of 251 homes (1%) on the previous year when 16,827 had been completed, the fourth consecutive annual increase and the highest annual number of completions since 2009-10.
During the same time period the number of new houses started increased by 626 homes (4%) from 17,765 in 2015-16 to 18,391 in 2016-17, the fourth consecutive annual increase and the highest annual number of starts since 2008-09.
Looking just at the new house building element of housing supply 17,078 homes were completed in 2016-17, an increase of 251 homes (1%) on the previous year when 16,827 had been completed. At the same time there was an increase of 626 (4%) in the number of homes on which construction started from 17,765 in 2015-16 to 18,391 in 2016-17. This is the highest number of home starts since 2008-09.
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw about 41,000 to 43,000 new houses completed each year. This was primarily due to programmes of post-war reconstruction and slum clearances which saw huge numbers of, predominantly public sector, housing being built.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s the level of new build fell and fewer than 20,000 homes were completed each year throughout much of the 1980s. This was caused by a large decline in the number of social sector houses being built. Meanwhile the number of new private houses was generally on the rise and continued to increase until the economic downturn in 2008. By 2007-08 private sector new build represented around 84% of all completions compared to between 3% and 7% in the early part of the 1950s.
Chart 3: New house building by private sector and social sector, 1920 to 2016 (calendar years)
The recession hit the private house building industry particularly hard and by 2012-13 starts and completions had fallen by 48% and 54% respectively since 2007-08. The numbers of homes completed by the private sector increased on an annual basis each year since 2012-13  , except for a small decrease of 1% in the most recent year (2016-17). The number of starts stands at 12,051, down by 9% from 2015-16, and 40% below the number started in 2007-08. Private sector completions meanwhile have decreased by 1% since 2015-16 to 13,187, 39% below the level in 2007-08.
In September 2013 the Scottish Government introduced the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme which has aimed to support buyers purchasing new build homes and to stimulate the housebuilding industry. Following this, the Help to Buy (Scotland) Affordable New Build and Help to Buy (Scotland) Smaller Developers schemes were launched on 21 January 2016. Further information on the schemes, along with monitoring information setting out numbers of sales, is available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/BuyingSelling/help-to-buy/MonthlyStats.
In general, the number of starts will be a strong indicator of the likely trend in completions over the longer term, but there may well be differences over the short and medium term. These differences depend on factors such as the housing market, economic climate, access to finance, and speed of construction.
A wide range of factors can influence the length of time it takes for a new private dwelling to be constructed, including the type of property (house, flat etc.), and the overall size of the site. Depending on the size of the site, the average time from start to completion of the entire site can range from anywhere between around 1.5 to 2.75 years. Individual homes, or blocks of homes, might be completed in shorter timescales if parts of the site are completed in advance of the rest.
There were 2,748 Housing Association new build completions in 2016-17 – 18% more than in 2015-16. There were 4,945 Housing Association new build approvals in 2016-17, an increase of 70% on 2015-16. Starts totalled 3,760, an increase of 31%.
After years of very few local authority new build housing completions in Scotland the Scottish Government's introduction of the Council House Building programme in 2009-10 has seen small but significant numbers of new council houses being built. There were 1,143 local authority completions in 2016-17, which is approximately the same as 2015-16 (5 more houses than the previous year). There were 1,395 local authority starts in 2015-16, 15% less than the previous year.
There are relatively few local authority site completions in recent years on which to base any firm conclusions of average timescales between start and completion. However an average of around 1 to 1.25 years for an entire site be completed seems to be fairly typical, rising to around 2 to 2.5 years for some of the bigger sites. Individual homes, or blocks of homes, might be completed in shorter timescales if parts of the site are completed in advance of the rest.
The map on the following page shows the rates of housing completions in 2016-17 (across all tenures) relative to the population size of each local authority in Scotland. The highest rates were observed in Midlothian, East Lothian, Orkney Islands, Renfrewshire, and East Dunbartonshire.
Link to tables on new builds: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Housing-Regeneration/HSfS/NewBuild
Map A: New build housing - all sector completions: rates per 10,000 population, year to end March 2017
Email: Esther Laird, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
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