The 65th edition of the Batibouw building fair commenced at Brussels Expo on Saturday, with a keen emphasis on affordable housing and sustainable renovation.

Despite expectations of a tough year ahead for the construction sector in 2024, the construction association Embuild remains optimistic, asserting that Belgians' interest in home improvement will persist: "People are unwilling to compromise on comfort; they seek cost-effective solutions."

Belgians are often described as having a "brick in their stomach," reflecting their enduring passion for home improvement and do-it-yourself projects. However, industry insiders are bracing for a challenging period, evident in some exhibitors' hesitance to participate, as noted by the event organizers, FISA. Approximately 300 exhibitors are slated to showcase their offerings this year, following last year's impressive attendance of nearly 160,000 visitors.

The cautious stance among professionals mirrors the prevailing uncertainty within the sector. Embuild, representing Belgian construction interests, forecasts a tough 2024, with over half of construction and installation companies reporting a decline in potential client inquiries, and 15 percent expressing concerns about impending staff layoffs.

Mindful of the economic climate, Cathy De Wilder, marketing manager at FISA, emphasizes the organization's increased support for the sector: "Batibouw will span over two weekends this year, compared to one last year. We've also reintroduced Batibouw deals, akin to those seen in the fashion industry."

Despite the prevailing challenges, ticket sales remain robust, indicating a strong consumer appetite for information. De Wilder underscores that the economic realities have been factored into the event's planning: "People are unwilling to compromise on comfort; they seek affordable solutions."

The fair will pause on February 20th and 21st, resuming until February 25th. Tickets are priced at 15 euros per person. Photo by DimiTalen, Wikimedia commons.