Each year, the UK population increases by about half a million people, which includes both immigration and new births, but unfortunately, only about 50% of the homes required to meet the growing demand are built.
There are many problems facing people living in big cities like London, and housing remains one of the most pressing, as noted by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in 2018. At least two crucial elements to the housing crisis which PropTech solutions can help with are:
- How fast can new homes be built?
- The buyer’s ability to afford them
Issues in the property sector where technology can help
According to Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment, “Technological innovations can and are making a huge difference within the property sector, ranging from design, construction, materials, waste management, health and safety, sourcing land sites, all the way up to how buyers and sellers interact with the housing market.”
The construction industry, for example, has only seen growth of about 1% since the early 1990s, showing that there is a room for innovation, efficiency, and improvement. Indeed, the construction industry is working to improve productivity and output by adopting a multitude of innovative technologies to help keep up with demand and reduce costs.
Big data and analytics can help achieve a 25% reduction in operation times in the construction and housebuilding processes. This translates to developers’ being able to build faster and more efficiently. Examples of how this is achieved are many and include the use of artificial intelligence to analyse optimisation of massing and unit layouts, which results in better construction yields.
This type of AI analytics capability can be adapted to fit with various regulatory guidelines in any region. Collaboration among a whole range of property sector professionals can maintain a better workflow, such as with architects, engineers, designers, contractors, and the public sector.
In addition to this, with enabling technologies like 5G, which come with an enormous bandwidth improvement over 4G, self-driving or autonomous machinery and vehicles are making headway in the construction industry to carry out labour-intensive and potentially hazardous tasks like welding and bricklaying.
Not only do these technologies help with completing projects quicker, but they also help reduce several risks connected to quality control, health and safety, and budgeting.
Data can help with creating and implementing solutions
Like many other sectors, the property sector deals with an enormous amount of valuable data, which can be better managed when centralised into a single database. The digital transformation of the industry is having a major impact, but it’s big data that is proving the greatest impetus for change and innovation. Of course, data should be treated with respect and a healthy amount of caution, making sure that it is collected and used in a responsible manner.
Data-management companies operating in the property sector can help developers and estate agents search for, identify, and analyse potential development sites and make recommendations based on specific criteria. Such a solution has proven effective with the public sector working in collaboration with government institutions like the UK Land Registry and Companies House.
Aerial drones, furthermore, can produce accurate and detailed data via 3D mapping. Surveying of land can be done much more quickly and efficiently with drones, providing data that is cheaper compared to traditional methods of mapping.
This data, moreover, can be integrated into augmented reality (AR) and Building Information Modelling (BIM) for project members to collaborate on in real time and experience an accurate representation of what the product will look like. The time savings that can be achieved can help speed up construction work and prevent faults or design flaws from having to be costly alterations later.
Innovation implementation doesn’t have to be complicated
Technological innovation transcends the tangibility of bricks and mortar. Indeed, there are important socio-economic dimensions due to the increasing digitisation of the property sector.
While it is vital to innovate with building homes, in terms of design and construction especially, it is equally important to keep in mind a salient reason why this is being done: to help the public and homebuyers access the housing market.
Technological innovation helps reduce the costs by streamlining the processes, reducing waste, speeding up construction, and using robotics and AI. So technological innovation is a hugely important way to reduce costs and time, resulting in more affordable homes being built.
PropTech is evolving in many other ways, too. Its interaction and overlap with the financial sector have resulted in innovative financial solutions to fund home purchases, such as equity loans of up to 15% of the value of the property. Furthermore, owning property shares is now much more feasible for lower income investors.