Housing association Liverpool Mutual Homes recently completed an innovative new development at Naylorsfield Drive in Liverpool. Partly funded by the Homes and Communities Agency’s 2015/18 Affordable Homes Programme, the £3.5m scheme was delivered by developer Bowsall who worked with Willerby Innovations and Caldwell Construction to build 33 two and three-bedroom modular homes.
The housing association chose off-site construction as a way of speeding up the building process to help meet the high demand for affordable housing in Liverpool.
Built offsite at Willerby Innovations’ factory in Hull, the modules were brought to site by lorry and craned into place, with each property constructed from three separate units; ground floor, first floor and roof.
The properties were constructed using TRADA Q-Mark certified timber modules with a steel ground floor cassette and timber first floor cassette, topped with a modular roofing system and finished with timber-effect weatherboarding and brick slip cladding.
The factory-built homes are more air-tight than those built using traditional construction methods, providing tenants with more energy efficient buildings that are cheaper to heat. Timber has natural insulating properties as air pockets within its cellular structure create a natural barrier to heat and cold.
In addition, the construction methods and materials used helped to ensure excellent sound-proofing, offering a more pleasant living environment for tenants.
Completed in the Spring of 2016, all 33 properties in the Naylorsfield Drive development have been let as “affordable rent” by Liverpool Mutual Homes, showcasing a new way to deliver affordable housing to meet the city’s needs.
The development includes 21 two-bedroom homes and 12 three-bedroom properties. All have south-facing, landscaped gardens and private driveways for parking.
Steve Coffey, chief executive at Liverpool Mutual Homes says;
“This is the first time we have carried out a scheme building homes off-site and the results are tremendous. The quality is second to none as the majority of each home has been built in a controlled indoor environment and not exposed to the wet weather we endured last winter.
“It has great potential, not just for our tenants but also the country as a whole. If this type of construction method can be rolled out on a large scale, we could speed up the entire housing building process significantly.
“Given the national housing shortage, landlords and developers have a duty to look at alternative methods to build homes more efficiently.”
Off-site modular construction methods bring a raft of benefits to housing associations. Time on site is significantly reduced, meaning that homes are completed up to 40% earlier than with traditional construction methods. Tenants can move in faster and housing associations can start generating rent more quickly.
Quality is easier to control as construction is completed under factory conditions, with all units produced to a consistent standard. This means that there are normally fewer post-construction defects or snagging lists to deal with, again reducing costs and time on site. Delays caused by bad weather can also be reduced as most of the construction is completed indoors.
Finally, cost variations are less likely, as the full specification is agreed in advance making changes less common. Further cost savings can be achieved with economies of scale, especially if new homes are commissioned at scale with repetitive house types.