Collaborative working to deliver a housing project (NH2 and OPI1)
About the project
The new build team in Wiltshire Council has committed to build 100 new council houses every year for the next ten years. To meet this commitment and to assure quality, reduce maintenance costs and, importantly, improve the sustainability of our new build homes Wiltshire Council were keen to explore the possibility of using MMC. Christine Brown, Residential Development Project Manager for Wiltshire Council outlines the main barriers the council faced as:
- Being new to MMC, we had no established relationships in the sector
- We had our own standard house types; did we want these translated into MMC accruing significant design costs, or would we buy designs “off the peg”?
- The volume required and the price of MMC meant a potentially lengthy
and complex local government procurement process After researching several MMC producers, Wiltshire Council were drawn to a relatively small local provider with a track record of working successfully with the MOD - Rollalong. The proximity of their factory meant lower “lorry miles”, reducing the carbon footprint of the delivery.
Rollalong were already working with Magna Housing Association to design and manufacture a suite of house
types, like Wiltshire Councils own house types. Several factors played a role in choosing the SWPA Offsite Construction of New Homes (NH2), and Offsite Project Integrator (OPI1) frameworks as the procurement route to access Rollalong and Taylor Lewis, Wiltshire
Council cited the main reasons as:
- The ease of access to manufacturers of offsite
- Proven and demonstrable delivery of offsite solutions
- The opportunity to procure Rollalong by means of a direct award based on designs and solutions already developed by another client, meaning that Wiltshire Council could learn from others
- Using an established portfolio of designs to deliver an initial project to get buy in internally to use offsite solutions and the opportunity to develop the bungalows.
- A collaborative approach with support from an experienced client and appointed company
- Access to the OPI1 consultancy framework (Taylor Lewis was appointed through a mini-competition) has been useful in assisting delivery of the project with access to experience and knowledge
"Taylor Lewis are excited to be involved in Wiltshire Council’s first MMC project, being able to bring our knowledge and experience of delivering MMC projects through the OPI Framework. We have worked with Wiltshire to agree bespoke Contracts with Rollalong and the ground works contractor." - Paul Cant, Senior Surveyor at Taylor Lewis
An informal partnership was developed that relies significantly on good will, trust, and a calculated understanding of our mutual benefit. Key to the success has been the involvement of the South West Procurement Alliance (SWPA), SWPA were the procurement route for the existing relationship between Magna Housing and Rollalong.
Wiltshire Council was provided a simplified route to market; enabling a call off from the Offsite Construction of New Homes (NH2) framework for compliant access to Rollalong and the Offsite Project Integrator (OPI1) framework, for the expert MMC consults Taylor Lewis.
In 18 months (via Zoom, throughout multiple lock downs!), Wiltshire Council have agreed shared house types that are now 100% of NDSS and, with the addition of PV, making them effectively carbon neutral in operation.
"What’s really unique and exciting about this MMC project is that we have been able to build on our lessons learnt from previous framework call offs with Magna Housing, to give Wiltshire Council the benefit of our experience and knowledge." - Phil Blackmore, Procurement Manager at SWPA
Wiltshire Council are now in contract with Rollalong, who are manufacturing the units for the first 19 homes, five of which will be wheelchair-accessible bungalows, to be transported and completed on three pilot sites.
The decision-making process, and the timescales for making key decisions, are very different with MMC methods from traditional building as they all must be decided before production commences. Decision delays can cause major implications for production or delivery and could even lead to loosing factory slot.
Mary Bennell, Director at SWPA says ‘The two frameworks go together to create a complete offering; the combined expertise of both the consultant and the manufacturer mean that many of the barriers to MMC, including the different ways of working, can be overcome.’
"I have enjoyed being part of the team that selected the internal finishing’s - seeing all the hard work coming together when the modules were being fitted out." - Laura Katon, Business Development Manager at Rollalong
This project shows just how much social value can be incorporated through all stages of the procurement process, not just in achieving value for money through the SWPA frameworks and the low carbon objectives but also in the local employment used, with a nearby factory. The local supply chain has been used to subcontract m & e contractors, electrical engineers, roofing contractors and groundworkers.
As a member of SWPA, Wiltshire Council have also been able to access the South West Community Benefit fund. This grant programme is run by SWPA and delivered in partnership with South West Community Matters, delivering grants to small community groups in each clients area.