Tuesday 24 September 2013

The Best Bungalows Money Can Buy


By coincidence, the council's press office today ran a story highlighting the authority's investment in social housing. There is very little in the piece that actually qualifies as news, but it seems that there will now be 38 new old people's bungalows as opposed to 39 as announced last year.

The first phase of the project is now underway, we are told, but the report published last week showing that there has been a major budget overspend is not mentioned.


At this month's meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council leader Kevin Madge spoke proudly about one of the centrepieces of his administration - the fact that the council has started building social housing again.

Viewers of the live broadcast will have noticed that at that point Cllr Callum Higgins went into nodding dog overdrive as he sat hanging on his leader's every word, although even Callum would be hard put to work out quite what Kev meant at times.

Off we went on a trip down memory lane to the council house building programmes of the 1950s and 1960s and the achievements of previous generations. If there was a message, the message was that Kev was boldly taking up where our forefathers left off.

The comparison is flattering because the much trumpeted bungalow scheme is very modest indeed, and will eventually produce 39 small bungalows for the elderly.

What Kev almost certainly knew at the time, but forgot to mention, was that the scheme is out of control.

The projected cost was £3.6 million, and Kev boasted last year (post here) that they would be the best money could buy. That works out at £92,000 per bungalow, which given the small size of the homes should have been enough to build some very nice homes indeed.

This blog wondered at the time whether, despite the generous budget, the project would come in as forecast.

A glance at a report studied by the Executive Board last week shows that things have gone rather awry, with costs already running at £511,000 more than expected. That's an extra £13,000 per bungalow, or an increase of nearly 15%, assuming that the budget overrun is for all 39 bungalows rather than just some of them.

The report is very sparing on detail, and what we don't know is how many bungalows have so far been completed, or whether the budget overrun is for the whole project or just part of it.

Bearing in mind that the costs quoted do not include the value of the land they sit on, a new-build costing around £160,000 (£105,000 build cost plus, say, £55,000 for the plot) would have an asking price of not much less than £180,000 on the open market.

Anyone with that sort of money to spend in Llanelli would be looking at rather more than a two bed semi-detached bungalow.

But as Kev said last year, these will be the best bungalows money can buy. Either that, or someone is making a killing.


Anonymous said...

Two questions .

1/. Who let a contract through that would not make the builder pay if costs went over budget ( i imagine it was tendered - if not why not ).
2/. Why would any council buy land when it has plenty to spare even if Social housing is ring fenced it can just give it to the housing dept.

Should the build costs not be more like 25k each in total concidering 38 are getting built. possibly for one 50k, but for 38 it would be devastatingly lower.

Cneifiwr has a Fish fish on here!

Cneifiwr said...

The first phase of development is, I believe, taking place on the site of derelict council housing which had to be demolished. So the council did not have to buy the land.

My point here is that these very modest homes look extremely expensive if they are compared with private housing stock.