M-AR takes outside the box approach to offsite collaboration

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offsite design technology

Leading lights from the offsite construction sector came together at an event hosted by innovative offsite contractor M-AR this autumn to plot a totally new approach to affordable housing development

The event, hailed as a ‘game-changer’ for the sector, brought together several key modular manufacturers and contractors with the aim of unlocking the full potential of offsite design technology for affordable housing developer, Pocket Living.

Hosted by M-AR at its head office and manufacturing facility in Hull, the event provided a platform for key stakeholders to share ideas and best practice in response to Pocket Living’s brief to find the most efficient and cost-effective offsite turnkey solution to delivering apartment development schemes of varying sizes.

Local first-time buyers

Pocket Living is an innovative affordable housing developer which creates homes exclusively for local first-time buyers allowing those on lower incomes chance to get their foot on the housing ladder and own a piece of the city they love.

The compact one-bedroom homes are sold at around 20% less than market value, but only to those who meet the specific criteria and crucially, cannot be bought and sold as investments.

14 new schemes

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With 14 new schemes in the pipeline, the developer is keen to continue using offsite as a way to maximise efficiency and bring more homes to market quicker.

To this aim, Pocket Living is in the process of setting up a specialist framework of modular manufacturers and specialist contractors to create a common platform for turnkey modular construction for its future projects.

During the event hosted by M-AR, Pocket Living shared the lessons it had learnt from its previous offsite experience – the good, the bad and the ugly – as a way to shape the offsite design technology for its next generation of housing developments in the capital.

M-AR, which spans both disciplines as manufacturer and contractor, has effectively ‘open sourced’ its specialist offsite design technology for the project, in the form of its BOPAS accredited Gen2 Modular System.

The idea is to use this as a starting point to develop an effective and workable design as a basis to which all suppliers on the Pocket Living framework would work towards. Repeating an agreed design will give the developer reliable costings and timings for each scheme, while allowing scope for some flexibility of design to tailor the schemes to their locations.

‘Unlock the full potential of offsite construction’

Ryan Geldard, operations director at M-AR said: “We know that the offsite sector needs to mature its offering to the needs of clients and Pocket Living has been very open with us about what the ideal offsite solutions would be for its business, stakeholders and most importantly end users.

“As an industry, keeping our cards close to our chest ultimately doesn’t serve anyone and we’ve long felt that adopting a collaborative approach with our clients and peers is much more beneficial. Events like this really demonstrate the value of such open discussions between different parties.

“By working together with our peers, we’re confident that we can unlock the full potential of offsite construction for Pocket Living and create a blueprint for other clients with similar challenges.

“We’re really pleased to offer our BOPAS accredited Gen2 Modular System as the origin technology. It’s exactly the sort of forward-thinking approach that we pride ourselves on at M-AR, and it’s been great to get some of the industry’s brightest and best around the table as we develop this system onwards!”

Alun Macey, construction and innovation director at Pocket Living added: “We are proud to do things differently to shake up the affordable housing market and it’s fantastic to see companies like M-AR also ready to challenge accepted industry norms in order to do things a little differently.

“We believe that modular construction is ideally suited to our schemes but the biggest cost and time savings of offsite generally seem to be reserved for much larger scale projects comprising hundreds of units.

“We knew there would be another way for us to enjoy the benefits of offsite so we’re very grateful to M-AR for hosting this event and creating a platform for open and honest discussion with key players in the industry.

“It’s an exciting chapter in the Pocket Living story as well as for the wider offsite construction sector and it just goes to show how we can all reap the rewards by thinking outside the box.”

The event was held in August 2021, ahead of new Covid-19 restrictions coming into effect.

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