London Assembly Ctte calls for a #publicProcurement framework for prefabricated homes

A committee of the London Assembly has called for a new procurement framework for prefabricated homes.

The assembly’s Planning Committee has published a report that says prefabs, or off-site manufactured homes (OSM), could be the answer to London’s housing shortage.

The capital needs about 50,000 new homes a year to meet growing demand but it is only reaching between 50% and 60% of its target.

The committee called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to establish a London-specific procurement framework to attract developers and contractors in order to establish a “pre-vetted and solid supply chain”.

OSM is a method of housebuilding where generic components or modules are manufactured in a factory and shipped for assembly on site. This type of house can take half the time of a standard construction and was used widely in the 1960s to rebuild homes after the war.

Nicky Gavron, chair of the planning committee, said:

“Loved or loathed, the prefabs and system-built blocks of the past contributed significantly to supply.

“Construction within a factory environment achieves quality control that ensures fast builds and lengthy lifespans… Once delivered to site they can be up in a matter of days or weeks, a vital advantage given the acute scale of demand London faces.” framework could support both the private and public sector in constructing modern OSM homes.

The report said:

“This framework could encompass both developer-led models that are capable of providing turnkey solutions on public sites and also have a contractor-led component which registered providers or private developers could use to buy OSM-led construction solutions for use on land they control and which meets all necessary procurement governance rules.”

The report recommended the mayor create a standard design code for OSM manufacturers, which could be built into the framework alongside commitments to build replicability, compatibility and inter-operability into the design of OSM components.

A framework could also build confidence in clients – for example housing associations – and lenders to invest in OSM construction by demonstrating due diligence had been done on contractors.

This article originally appeared in the 4th September 2017 edition of Supply Management magazine.

Image ©Morley von Sternberg, courtesy of RSHP