Hunt begins for manufacturers to join £600m offsite homes framework

The National Housing Federation’s (NHF) Building Better alliance has begun the search for three manufacturers to join its £600m offsite homes framework

Building Better, the NHF-supported alliance of housing associations, has begun the search for three manufacturers to deliver its first framework for modern methods of construction (MMC).

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

The 25 housing associations that make up the alliance have committed to manufacturing 800 offsite homes via the new framework, with a broader pipeline of 4,500 properties that will be produced using modern methods of construction over the term of the five-year framework.

The offsite homes 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, discussing options with them and listening to their feedback on what the market has to offer before the final specification is compiled.

Manufacturers will then be invited to submit final tenders for a place on the framework.

Working with manufacturers

Trina Chakravarti, project director of Building Better, 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.”

Steve Malone, CEO at procurement for Housing, added: “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.”

The procurement process will conclude in Spring 2021 with successful bidders appointed to the offsite homes framework on a direct-award basis, meaning they won’t have to engage in further competition to win contracts with individual housing providers.

It is hoped that five offsite schemes will be in the ground by the end of 2021.

Procurement on a separate ‘MMC Category 2 Construction Systems’ framework will begin in Spring/Summer 2021. This will cover pre-manufactured two-dimensional panelised systems that are assembled on site to form 3D structures.

This article was first published in PBC Today on 27 November 2020

Membership of Building Better is open to any housing association or local authority housing provider in England and Wales.