Building Better Championing Modular

13th October, 2021

As modular technology continues to make its mark on the housing sector, the National Housing Federation (NHF) backed Building Better alliance has appointed three volumetric modular manufacturers to its £600million offsite framework.

Building Better, the NHF-supported alliance of 29 housing associations and local authorities working together to increase the use of modern methods of construction (MMC), has now appointed three manufacturers to deliver its first offsite homes framework. The Building Better framework comes as housing associations move away from traditional housebuilding and towards offsite construction that can deliver homes in half the time, that are up to 70% more sustainable. Thanks to shorter construction programmes, modular housebuilding can help generate faster revenue streams for housing associations. This also means housing associations will benefit from having to spend less on retrofitting further down the line.

Procurement for Housing (PfH) and Building Better have signed up Ilke Homes, Impact Modular and TopHat to the volumetric framework which is worth up to £600million over five years. Social housing providers will be able to procure pre-manufactured 3D construction systems for both houses and apartments through the deal.

Over 185,000 homes are managed by the 29 housing associations and local authorities that make up Building Better. Initially, they will build at least 800 new offsite homes via the framework with a further 4,500 properties to be produced using modern methods of construction before 2026. This pipeline will grow as more social housing providers join the alliance. 

PfH and Building Better have appointed the three successful manufacturers to the framework on a direct award basis. This means that housing associations and local authorities won’t need to go through any additional tender process. It is estimated that this streamlined contracting approach will save each housing provider around £15,000 in procurement costs alone.

All MMC homes procured under the Building Better framework will be able to meet the government’s ‘zero carbon ready’ Future Homes Standard, they will take a ‘fabric-first’ approach - prioritising insulation ahead of add-ons like solar panels, they will meet nationally described space standards and have the option to be wheelchair accessible. Offsite homes developed by Building Better members will also be certified by the Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS) and be assessed and accepted by a NHBC building warranty.

Set up in 2018 as part of the National Housing Federation’s Greenhouse innovation programme, Building Better aggregates demand from its members so they can procure high quality, sustainable, offsite homes, at the right price, confident in the fact that these homes will meet their customers’ needs. Building Better also collaborates with offsite manufacturers, listening to their feedback, learning and innovating together. This partnership approach improves quality, safety, energy efficiency, downstream maintenance and resident satisfaction.

Trina Chakravarti, Project Director of Building Better said: “In the past, housing associations, local authorities and manufacturers have often gone through the MMC process alone - there is no aggregation of knowledge or resources, and mistakes are repeated. We want to change this through early, honest partnership working between social housing providers, manufacturers and residents, sharing information and learning together to improve MMC and overcome traditional barriers.”

Established in 2004, PfH is a national procurement consortium dedicated to the social housing sector and supported by the National Housing Federation (NHF), Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and HouseMark. Collectively our Members manage more than 75% of UK’ social housing stock, with PfH helping them to achieve efficiency savings using a wide range of services including framework agreements, spend analyses, strategy reviews, consolidated billing and comprehensive reporting.  

Steve Malone, CEO at PfH said: “By assessing the MMC market, narrowing the field and appointing just three manufacturers, our goal was to reduce much of the due diligence and procurement complexity that housing associations and local authorities often face around MMC. Ilke Homes, Impact Modular and TopHat all impressed us with their commitment to the collaborative ethos of this framework. For them, involving residents and working closely with housing providers is key to continually improving their MMC offer.”

Due to COVID-19, the number of people on housing association waiting lists has only increased, with a recent report from Local Government Association stating that housing waiting lists could hit more than two million this year, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, housing associations now need innovative methods of building that allow them to meet this demand.

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