Construction Enquirer News Britain’s biggest house builder accelerates offsite production to tackle skills shortages

Britain’s biggest house builder is raising its target to build homes using modern methods of construction to 30% by 2025.

The firm previously targeted one in four homes using MMC by 2025 but delivered this early this year following the roll out a series of new housing types to allow a switch to greater use of offsite production and standardised product use.

Its success in switching to greater offsite production was revealed as it reported construction activity returned to near normal production in strong end-of-year results.

Over the year to June 2021, home completions returned to 17,243, just 3% down on 2019 levels and 37% higher than the 2020 shutdown impacted total.

This saw revenue return to £4.8bn, delivering a £812m pre-tax profit, 11% down on 2019.

David Thomas, chief executive of Barratt, said that during the year Barratt delivered 4,393 homes using MMC, equating to 25% of its total home completions (2020: 2,652 homes and 21% of total home completions).

“MMC provides opportunities to address the skills shortage facing the industry, diversify the types of materials we use and build with greater speed and efficiency.

“We will accelerate our roll out of MMC to deliver 30% of completions from MMC by 2025.

He said Barratt had now applied one or more MMC solutions to over 100 sites giving it confidence it could gear up to accelerate the rollout in the face of building costs expected to rise by 5% this year.

“This accumulation of knowledge and experience has allowed us to define the criteria needed to unlock the benefits of MMC and deliver a successful site in terms of build efficiency and sales.”

Thomas added: “As a result, we are now able to use MMC on the right sites to compete with traditional brick and block construction, mainly due to the time savings we have been able to obtain.”

Units delivered using MMC used during the year.

MMC
FY21
FY20
Timber frame
3,003
2,031
Roof cassettes
696
269
Offsite ground floors
360
143
Large format block
334
209
Total
4,393
2,652
Percentage of completions
25%
21%

He added that timber frame homes were a key aspect of Barratt’s MMC and carbon reduction strategy.

Barratt aims to lift timber frame production after buying offsite specialist Oregon in 2019

“We recognise that there remains more research to be done in exploring the advantages of MMC, in terms of design, construction, and use through the whole life of a building.

“We recognise it is critical that the whole sector takes on MMC and delivers robust solutions, and the importance of knowledge sharing.”

 

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