Boost for modular housing as Places for People and ilke Homes strike sector’s biggest deal yet

ilke Homes (Demo)

A Yorkshire-based manufacturer of modular housing is set to deliver 750 new homes in a deal said to be the largest yet for the offsite manufacturing (OSM) sector.

Places for People says its “pioneering” joint venture with ilke Homes is a show of confidence in a growing OSM industry.

The deal will see the housing and regeneration company buy 750 homes. This will include 500 for sites it already owns, and a further 250 for forthcoming schemes. The properties will be manufactured at ilke’s factory in Flaxby, Knaresborough, then the modules will be shipped to site where they will be assembled to create the homes.

“We are a market disruptor becoming more active in the adoption of MMC; partnering with a proven modular business such as ilke allows us to create more affordable, well-designed homes across the country — speeding up delivery, cutting cost and giving our customers unrivalled choice and quality,” said David Cowans, Places for People’s chief executive.

“This is just the start for offsite manufacturing and as placemakers, we are going to invest even more in modular. We will implement efficient processes and new design techniques which not only raise the bar for the industry – but crucially, give people across the country affordable homes to live in.

“Our partnership is about pioneering a new way of delivering homes and disrupting the market through making socially-responsible decisions and working with best-in-class partners to improve quality, speed up housing delivery and minimise environmental impact.”

The benefits of volumetric modular construction are said to include:

  • The light gauge steel construction can be clad in traditional brick making it look like a normal house
  • Development time on site is halved, meaning income can be generated far quicker as factories engineer homes while foundations are dug
  • Significant reduction in snagging, thanks to dry and warm factory production
  • Around 90% less on-site waste and 80% improvement in man-hour productivity
  • ilke is the first modular manufacturer to be fully covered by NHBC warranty

“Ride-hailing apps have replaced standing in the rain to flag taxis, so it makes sense that we embrace the benefits of manufacturing homes in dry factories,” said Dave Sheridan, executive chairman of ilke Homes. “A mature OSM market could create an ‘Uber moment’ for construction, speeding up delivery, cutting cost and giving our customers unrivalled choice and quality.

“Our deal with Places for People will help continue to grow our capacity and is a huge vote of confidence in modular housing and Homes England deserves huge praise for its entrepreneurial approach to accelerating delivery.”

The deal has evidently gone down well in the wider housing sector.

“This is excellent news as the UK blazes a trail in the modern methods of construction that are transforming home building,” said housing minister, Kit Malthouse MP.

“[This] announcement supports our urgent mission to deliver more, better and faster home construction to ensure a new generation can realise the dream of home ownership.”

Sir Edward Lister, chair of Homes England, said: “It’s no secret that the housing industry has been facing significant productivity and skills challenges in recent years, which is why, as the government’s housing accelerator, Homes England is committed to championing modern methods of construction – such as modular homes – to increase the pace of delivery across the country.

“It’s exciting to see two of our partners, Places for People and ilke Homes, joining forces to increase the capacity of the off-site manufacturing industry and deliver much-needed new homes. This kind of innovation in the private sector is exactly what we need to see more of to disrupt the housing market and meet the country’s housing demand.”

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “It’s really positive to see housing providers like Places for People embracing offsite manufacturing. This is the single biggest modular housing deal yet, and the fact that it has been led by a housing provider speaks volumes about where we as a sector are at.

“Offsite manufacturing is an opportunity to build high quality homes, support communities and invest in skills through the jobs it creates. It clearly provides huge benefits for accelerating delivery and improving energy efficiency.

“Housing providers are well-placed to take a long-term, strategic view around the delivery of new homes and I am delighted to see the likes of Places for People and ilke Homes on the vanguard of change across the housing sector.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “The industry has delivered big increases in supply over recent years, but we are still some way short of building enough homes to meet the country’s need. As we look to address our housing shortage, the industry is increasingly looking to innovate as a way of delivering ever more, high quality homes. We welcome such initiatives and will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure new technologies come forward and be developed.”

Neil Jefferson, chief operating officer of the National House Building Council, said: “We have worked extensively with ilke Homes and they were the first low-rise volumetric manufacturer to be accepted as meeting NHBC Standards, meaning homes built using this system can be covered by the 10-year Buildmark warranty.

“Modern methods of construction are helping to support the demand for new homes and, when manufactured in controlled conditions, can help drive improvements in quality. We do not take this for granted, however, which is why we have carried out a detailed review of the design, manufacture and construction of ilke Homes which will help give homeowners confidence in the quality of new homes.”

Mark Farmer, a government advisor who warned in his landmark report the construction sector must “modernise or die”, said: “Places for People’s leadership in this space, driving forward this kind of strategic deal, is a template for how the wider housing providers sector should act. We were impressed that ilke Homes had a strong digital design thread, a clear path for business evolution and the technical and management skills to be a best in class modular business.”

“Game-changing disruption in the UK modular homes sector is now starting to gather pace. This revolution is long overdue and will enable us to deliver more homes to a better quality.

“The government’s pledge to get us building 300,000 homes a year will only be possible if offsite manufacturing capacity grows and other prominent developers follow the lead set down by the likes of Places for People, Berkeley Homes and Urban Splash.”

Places for People’s Cowans added: “We’ve been working with ilke Homes for a long time and this has enabled us to really road-test their technology and have complete confidence in what is a top-class product. The potential for this technology to allow us to start to make housing more customisable in the near-future is inevitable, and I am looking forward to be working with ilke as we look to develop and innovate designs so that residents at all price points have a better home.”


Main Image: ilke Homes demonstrates one of its modular, offsite manufactured homes outside Manchester Central during the CIH Conference in 2018


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