In this article, Phillip Blackmore, regional procurement manager at SWPA explains how aggregating demand for MMC homes is beneficial for manufacturers and communities
For several years, it has been identified that the adoption of offsite/modular housing has been the piecemeal with a number of clients interested to move forward on projects but wanting to “prove the concept” before committing themselves wholesale to adopting offsite solutions.
The consequence has been much reinventing the wheel in terms of design, inefficiencies, and high costs per unit due to small volumes and lack of repeat work. Offsite manufacturers have found this a challenging market due to a lack of an assured pipeline.
Wiltshire Council and Magna Housing, ‘The Cluster’ partnered with SWPA to procure 1000 MMC offsite homes across a 3-year period utilising standard house types consisting of a portfolio of beautiful homes that can be customised and adapted to meet local context (rural, urban, brownfield) and the requirements of the people who will live in them.
Magna Housing are already delivering MMC volumetric homes, including those recently seen at Barton Gardens, via the SWPA Offsite Construction of New Homes (NH2) framework and have a 10-year plan for 2,000 homes. The board is fully committed to MMC as the way to deliver the consistent quality needed to make a real difference in building the net zero carbon homes needed in the UK.
Wiltshire Council have 3 ‘proof of concept’ sites underway using MMC and can already see the benefits of progressing their wider programme with MMC solutions and want to deliver homes to their residents that are as energy efficient as possible – the aspirations being no energy bills or paying negative energy charges whilst enjoying a comfortable internal environment. They want to work towards achieving net zero embodied carbon in construction and operation without having to place a heavy reliance on offsetting measures.
By collaborating on standardised designs and aggregating volume together, the cluster has provided the opportunity for manufacturers to work with clients who have an assured pipeline and have delivered offsite housing and so understand the issues and challenges. By placing bulk orders, manufacturers have the opportunity to improve efficiency and process through continuous workflow.
The cluster call-off was managed by SWPA and run via our Offsite Construction of New Homes (NH2) framework, and this contract was awarded to Rollalong.
From a pricing perspective, aggregation, volume, pipeline, and standardisation provided the clients with:
- An average cost per m2 (superstructure only) of £1,802 per m2 when market intelligence suggests that the cost of modular ranges from £1,850 – £3,000 per m2
- Fixed pricing
- Higher quality product
As well as the commercial benefits aggregation and volume generated, it also created the opportunity for Rollalong to invest social value benefits into the local communities across Dorset, Wiltshire, and Somerset. As part of their bid submission, Rollalong have committed to a significant number of social value measures including the creation of new FTE jobs, new apprenticeships, mentoring, mental health training and volunteering hours supporting local community projects.
The success of this project coincided with the publication of the independent review of public sector frameworks, commissioned by the Cabinet Office, and led by Professor David Mosey who was given the brief of creating a new ‘Gold Standard’ for public sector frameworks.
The report makes it clear that a strategic alliancing approach, built on a foundation of collaboration and long-term commitments and clear strategic priorities, is needed for frameworks to deliver on the benefits they promote and with the work being achieved through the cluster project, this concept is being proven. Also, through our long-established use of the Framework Alliance Contract (FAC-1), we also provide a contractual system that supports integration, information sharing and mutual commitment.
What are the next steps?
The concept was to proceed with the two clients that were ready to procure, and now SWPA will look to promote the concept to other clients to combine forces, so they can also benefit from the established pipeline and value for money outcomes already achieved.