The office sector in London has usually kept builders merchants in London pretty busy, as all sorts of huge developments have taken place across the capital over recent years, but now refurbishment is taking centre stage.

While the capital’s skyline has its Shard, Gherkin, Cheesegrater and the Walkie-Talkie, there are still many older buildings around the metropolis that provide important office space but require modernisation. According to the Deloitte Summer 2023 London Office Crane Survey, the level of refurbishment work has reached unprecedented levels.

This means much of the work being undertaken is not huge new structures rising up, even though there has been an 80 per cent increase in new starts since the last survey. Rather, it is concern about buildings becoming obsolete, and in particular not meeting their energy performance requirements, that has driven a surge in refurbishment work.

As the survey noted, around 80 per cent of office buildings are now below the Energy Performance Certificate A or B rating that will be legally required by 2030, which means these offices either need to have significant internal or external work undertaken to bring them up to this standard or they will become obsolete.

As a result, 37 refurbishment schemes were recorded in the survey, the highest number since Deloitte began recording them in 2005.

While it may be office owners undertaking refurbishment work to meet legal standards now, the residential rental sector will need to do more in the years ahead.

Although energy performance certificate rules already apply in this area, new legislation announced by the government will provide further protection for tenants by abolishing section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

What that means is that the notorious practice of kicking out tenants who raise concerns about problems with properties will no longer offer an easy way out for irresponsible landlords, and they will have to refurbish properties instead.

Stating that this is a specific intent of the legislation, housing secretary Michael Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.”