New homes law targets risk the viability of housebuilding in Scotland, according to a senior industry figure.

The leading Scottish housebuilder has warned that supply shortages as companies strive to meet deadline commitments in areas including heating and Passivhaus standards are expected.

Industry body Homes for Scotland, which this week welcomed the Scottish Government’s move to recognise housing as a National Outcome, has raised concerns over Passivhaus standards which have a deadline of 2025 to be introduced. This could push a £31,000 house up by £20,000.

The Passivhaus Trust has said the policy is groundbreaking and that it should not be "jettisoned" because of a change in Holyrood net zero targets, which, before the Scottish Government split, a First Minister resigned, and a new one was crowned, were abandoned in the form of a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

However, new First Minister John Swinney and Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes have inherited a contentious set of housing proposals.

Looking at ways Holyrood could move to help the current housing crisis in Scotland, Innes Smith, chief executive of Elgin-based Springfield Properties, told The Herald: "Leading the way Springfield has already delivered over 60 developments without gas across Scotland, however we are concerned about the supply of air-source technology when every housebuilder across the industry begins delivering developments with air-source heating.

"We foresee a shortage of heat pumps coming down the track and this will drive price hikes as demand outstrips supply."

The Herald: The Scottish Property Federation, the real estate industry body, said earlier that the market needs clarity and a pragmatic policy framework on rent controls.The Scottish Property Federation, the real estate industry body, said earlier that the market needs clarity and a pragmatic policy framework on rent controls. (Image: Getty Images)

He said it is hoped the Passivhaus equivalent standard "is now considered more carefully with proper consultation which listens to the industry on the commercial impact of what is being proposed", adding: "The cost of this change would far outweigh the limited carbon reduction that is expected to be achieved and this would undoubtedly impact the ability to increase housing delivery. 

"Put simply if build costs continue to rise, developments of any tenure will become unviable, and potential investment in Scottish communities will be lost."

Jon Bootland, chief executive of the Passivhaus Trust, said: "In developing the Scottish Passivhaus equivalent policy the Scottish Government has shown global leadership.

"We urge the Scottish Government to hold its nerve and not abandon this ground-breaking policy.

"A Scottish Passivhaus equivalent would deliver so many benefits to the people of Scotland in terms of radically reduced energy bills, improved health outcomes, and improved grid capacity through reduced peak demand."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We are currently considering the responses to our consultation on proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill.

"We also intend to consult on proposals for a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard in late summer, to support our commitment to Parliament to confirm changes to building regulations in December this year. The implementation programme beyond December 2024 will be determined by the level of challenge set by the proposed regulations.

"Our Heat in Buildings Supply Chain Delivery Plan sets out how supply chains will need to grow and change to meet future demand driven by future regulations of heating and energy efficiency."

Business editor Ian McConnell asks: Did business just deliver a big surprise for John Swinney?

"The reaction to John Swinney being confirmed as Scotland’s next First Minister this week has seemed surprisingly positive," he writes.

"If we didn't have the American golfers, we probably wouldn't be here." Also this week, business correspondent Kristy Dorsey examines the worth of the US golfer to the Scottish market in an exclusive business news feature.

Elsewhere, deputy business editor Scott Wright reports that shares in Glasgow-based Macfarlane Group tumbled by nearly 10% at one stage this week as the packaging giant reported a sharp downturn in sales during a “challenging” first quarter.