Many new homes possible by renovating existing buildings: report

Renovating existing buildings can make a significant contribution to solving the housing shortage in the Netherlands. Until the end of 2030, the current regulations should make it possible to realize 100,000 to 120,000 additional hones, the Economic Institute for Construction (EIB) estimated in a study. That potential can be increased by approximately a quarter by encouraging renovations with targeted subsidies and amending rules that currently stand in the way.

The EIB mentions three ways in which existing buildings can be used for new homes: splitting, topping up, and transforming. Splitting means dividing large homes into smaller ones. Topping up is adding extra floors to existing buildings. And by transforming, the researchers mean converting former offices, schools, and other buildings into homes. According to the study, there is still a lot of untapped potential in all three categories. For example, topping up is hardly ever done, although there are plenty of opportunities for this,

Natuur & Milieu commissioned this research. The environmental organization is positive about converting existing buildings because it not only provides additional living space but is also relatively sustainable. No additional land is required and the use of materials is much lower than for new construction. According to the report, CO2 emissions associated with the production of materials are 50 to 85 percent lower when renovating buildings than when building new ones.

According to Marjolein Demmers, director of Natuur & Milieu, the government still pays too little attention to the benefits of these types of renovations, and the focus is still “too one-sided” on construction. “With smart policy, many home seekers can be made happy in the short term,” she said.

The government wants to add over 900,000 homes to the Dutch housing stock by 2030. New construction forms the main part of this. According to CBS figures, over 73,000 new homes were built last year. Nearly 15,000 were added through transformation and division, among other things. According to the EIB and Natuur & Milieu, this could increase a lot if the government makes the option more attractive. That could be done, for example, by opening up subsidies that currently exist for new construction to the conversion or extension of existing buildings. Or by relaxing rules that discourage the splitting of homes in certain neighborhoods.