Last edited 04 Nov 2020



The term ‘housebuilder’ (or ‘home builder’) is commonly used to refer to a building contractor that specialising in building houses. 'Housebuilder' may sometimes be shortened to 'builder', differentiated from a 'contractor' who tends to construct buildings other than houses.

Unlike contractors, housebuilders often directly employ all the construction workers necessary to compete the houses, rather than subcontracting the works to specialist trades. This is because housebuilding is a relatively repetitive process, for which the workforce required is reasonably predictable and so direct employment of the workforce does not become a problem as the builder moves from one project to another.

A small housebuilder is a company that builds fewer than 100 homes per year.

In 2017, the top 10 housebuilders in the UK were:

  1. Barratt Developments
  2. Taylor Wimpey
  3. Persimmon
  4. Berkeley
  5. Bellway
  6. Redrow
  7. Bovis Homes
  8. Crest Nicholson
  9. Mears
  10. Bloor Homes


Housebuilders are sometimes accused, particularly in times of housing shortages, of not building sufficient houses and sometimes engaging in land banking; regulating the supply of land that is developed in order to artificially inflate prices. This is something that housebuilders themselves strenuously deny. See Landbanking for more information.

A housing start, also known as a new start, is an economic indicator used to assess the number of new residential construction projects that have begun over a certain period (such as a month, a quarter or a year). The figures for new housing starts can provide an indicator for how the economy is performing over a given period of time. The National House Building Council reported that builders registered plans to start 160,606 new homes in 2018. For more information see: What is a housing start?

The picture is complicated by that fact that not all homes are houses, and the broader term 'residential', or 'dwelling' may be a better representation of the number of homes than just housing. See Residential definition for more information.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales.

The National House Building Council (NHBC) independently regulates the new homes industry. It is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee and is now the UK’s leading standard-setting body and provider of insurance and warranties for newly-built homes. It is also the largest single approved inspector for the building regulations.

Housebuilders have been criticised for producing repetitive buildings with little character, and in recent years they have come under fire for a poor quality of workmanship. For more information see: Housing defects.

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