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Wed December 01 2021

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Three manufacturers wanted for £600m offsite homes framework

27 Nov 20 Building Better, the National Housing Federation-supported alliance of housing associations developing prefabricated social housing, has begun a search for three manufacturers to deliver its first framework for offsite volumetric construction.

Procurement for Housing is working with Building Better to develop the £600m volumetric framework which will go live in spring 2021.

The 25 housing associations that make up the alliance have committed to manufacturing 800 homes via the new framework and they have a broader pipeline of 4,500 properties that will be factory-made over the term of the five-year framework.

Building Better is keen for more housing providers to join the alliance, so said that this pipeline may grow further over the next few years.

The framework is for ‘MMC Category 1 Construction Systems’, covering pre-manufactured, three-dimensional buildings that are factory-produced and delivered to site. There are three lots: low rise houses, medium rise flats and a combination of both, with one manufacturer to be appointed to each lot on a direct call-off basis.

Procurement for Housing will conduct a competitive dialogue with interested manufacturers before the final specification is compiled. Manufacturers will then be invited to submit final tenders for a place on the framework.

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The procurement process will close in spring 2021 with chosen bidders appointed to the framework on a direct-award basis, meaning they won’t have to engage in further competition to win contracts with individual housing providers. The target is to have five offsite schemes in the ground by the end of 2021.

Procurement on a separate ‘MMC Category 2 Construction Systems’ framework will begin in mid-2021. This will cover flat-pack buildings – two-dimensional panelised kits that are assembled on site to form 3D structures.

Building Better project director Trina Chakravarti said: “Offsite manufacturing will only work in social housing through meaningful collaboration. That means housing providers aggregating their demand so manufacturers can sustain their factories. But it also means the sector engaging with manufacturers and being open to the development process rather than having a predetermined idea of the product they want.”

Procurement for Housing chief executive Steve Malone said: “One reason why offsite construction has failed in the past is the lack of genuine partnership work with manufacturers at the procurement phase. Many social landlords approach suppliers with a fully formed idea of the home they want; but being so prescriptive doesn’t work in an offsite market that is still developing. We’ve designed a procurement process that allows honest discussions with manufacturers before a tender spec is finalised.”

In September the government announced that it will make prefabrication central to its new £11.5bn affordable homes programme. Social landlords that sign up to ‘strategic partnerships’ under the programme will have to use offsite manufacturing to produce at least 25% of their new homes.

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