A procurement organisation established to boost the use of modern methods of construction (MMC) in social housing is on the hunt for dozens of local, traditional-build contractors.
The recruitment drive for the new £800m MMC framework, which runs over four years, is looking for firms to serve as lead contractors on MMC projects.
Building Better is an alliance of housing associations and councils, backed by the National Housing Federation (NHF), and it is working with Procurement for Housing (PfH) to develop its Integrated Traditional Build & MMC framework.
Traditional construction firms in 10 different regions of England and Wales will be appointed, offering their services as lead contractor on MMC projects.
According to Building Better, the framework’ is being designed in response to calls from social housing providers for a compliant way of involving “trusted, local contractors” on MMC projects, where elements of traditional construction are often still needed.
With a growing number of MMC manufacturers supplying only their systems – rather than taking the principal contractor role – housing providers want to bring in such local, trusted construction firms that can lead off-site projects. This will also allow housing associations and local authorities to continue investing in local contractors.
Trina Chakravarti, director of Building Better, said: “Increasingly, our members want a blend of different construction methods on their MMC projects. Traditional SME construction firms have a huge amount of expertise, and we’re keen to harness this through the framework.
“Using a collaborative approach means that manufacturers can concentrate on delivering their product, traditional firms can take control of the building process and we can offer housing associations and councils a wide range of construction solutions.”
To shape the framework, PfH and Building Better have spoken to SME building firms across the country, gathering feedback on how an agreement would best work, including ways to make the procurement process more straightforward, and to develop the most effective contracting environment.
The framework will cover the construction of housing, apartments, and extra care homes and there will be a regional lot structure. Contractors can find more details here. A contract notice will be issued in March 2024, with successful bidders appointed in the summer.
Tony Woods, technical manager, construction and sustainability for PfH, said: “We’ve been talking to traditional contractors to find out how they’d want to work on MMC schemes and, interestingly, many of their requests are the same as those from off-site manufacturers.
“Both want to be engaged early in the process, before set designs are in place. Both want a more transparent way of working with wider use of ‘pain and gain’ agreements and a simpler, more collaborative contracting environment. This feedback is now being used to design our integrated framework.”
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