Whatever your role in housing procurement, the new Housing Standards Handbook is here to help

Do housing standards give you a headache? If so, you’re not alone. The governments’ review of housing standards hasn’t fully delivered on its promise to streamline and simplify and let’s face it, the agenda may be more about quantity than quality.

Julia Park is Head of Housing Research at Levitt Bernstein

Julia Park is Head of Housing Research at Levitt Bernstein

19 January 2016

With its easy writing style, complete set of colour-coded standards, stacks of useful supporting information and handy checklists, the new National Housing Federation Housing Standards Handbook is not just a definitive brief for new build, affordable housing, it’s also a mine of information. It will help you decide when Communal Heat and Power makes sense and remind you why it isn’t clever to put a sink at the end of a worktop run (astonishing how often this happens!). It de-codes acronyms, has a glossary that makes you feel instantly more clued-up and it’s bang up-to-date.

When the National Housing Federation invited us to tender, we saw it as an opportunity to produce the book we wish we had had. A chance to bring together the things you must do, the things you might have to do and the extra things you need to consider if you are committed to a good result.

Producing good housing isn’t easy. The analogy that comes to mind is the plate spinner. It all starts off relatively calmly but soon gathers momentum. Take your eye off just one plate and as you rush around to sort it out lots of others start to wobble. The more ambitious you are (higher density = more plates) the more difficult it is to stay in control.

Smashed plates are easily replaced and waiters get another chance tomorrow. Housing isn’t like that. Every new home takes a great deal of time and effort, costs a lot of money and consumes a huge amount of embodied energy. When things go wrong or something is overlooked, the long-term impact can be severe. We don’t get a second chance for decades – in fact, whatever we build today should last at least 100 years.

Yes, times are tough, particularly for affordable housing providers. Housing isn’t a quick fix or a game of numbers and it simply isn’t worth cutting too many corners. Get it right, and it’s immensely rewarding.

So if you’re a client, project briefing just got easier; if you’re a designer you’ll like the fact that everything is in one place; if you simply want to know more about housing, design, start here. And if you feel one of those housing standards headaches coming on, try this.


The Housing Standards Handbook

  • considers the role that standards play in securing the quality of new build housing
  • breaks down the standards to show whether they are applied nationally or locally
  • features a checklist in the appendices containing all the standards listed in the book
  • is easy to navigate with best practice guidance and illustrations.

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