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LoCal factory visit: understanding pre-manufactured value

One of the key drivers for our business is sustainability and over the three months since joining V10 Homes, I have taken great strides in understanding what 55% pre-manufactured value (PMV) means and how it can be achieved.

Having worked for a volume partnership housebuilder delivering all affordable schemes mostly by traditional build, I must confess hearing of the 55% PMV option and the additional Homes England grant availability was alien to me. I knew about the MMC options and what can be achieved by timber frame and modular companies – having paid particular attention in the past to having windows, stairs and external cladding being factory fitted to speed up show-home delivery on schemes. What I was unaware of was the ability for these companies to have doors and linings installed, alongside pre-completed internal walls and hung doors.

Within the first month of joining V10 my colleagues introduced me to LoCal, whose factory we visited just before the end of last year. The visit gave me a better understanding of the product and what LoCal can do within the factory environment and also the benefits of this onsite. Having a huge factory with around 28 personnel on shift at a time, they can produce close to 1000 units a year that are effectively a category 2 closed panel pre-insulated timber frame unit – each externally finished in cladding, brick slips and render. The windows and linings are pre-fitted ready to be erected onsite. Within the factory they also produce pods for bathrooms/shower rooms and kitchen pods that can be installed during the build.

The key benefits:

  1. Onsite Labour Reduction – Reducing the reliance on trades within a time where there is a trade and skill gap within the industry thus reducing reliance on bricklayers and the weather.
  2. Programme Benefits – what would normally take between six and twelve weeks getting from slab to watertight, can take between five days and ten days. Overall programme benefits can be around ten weeks in total, as the internal trades can continue while the bricklayers are yet to start.
  3. Programme Delivery Rate – While a traditionally built site can produce between 4 and 6 units a month at peak, these units can start between 6 and 8 units a month rising to 10 and 12 in peak times reducing the overall build programme duration which for all affordable sites can be instrumental in delivering much needed affordable housing, while also reducing interest payments.
  4. Prelim Saving – Not only are you reducing onsite supervision hours, but other benefits such as reduced waste per plot and the overall number of skips reduced makes for a much safer and greener site.

There are a number of scenarios to achieve 55% PMV – the easiest way is:

  • Pre-Cast concrete piled foundations – A category 2 closed panel timber frame system, with factory fitted external finishes, pre-installed windows and linings, and pre-hung doors and linings.

This system advocates a 57% PMV solution, provided the roof is constructed on the adjacent floor slab which is then lifted when completed.

Overall, the benefits for achieving 55% PMV on affordable sites is a driving factor for increased quality and productivity on sites, one of the issues is that surprisingly only a handful of RPs are aware of either the benefits or the additional grant from Homes England that can be applied for to help with the increased cost that this method often entails.  Better education and understanding is needed within all RPs and contractors on this approach and the overall benefits, and at V10 we are doing this site by site to meet one of our three sustainability pledges.

Comments by:

Keiran Wakley

Head of Pre-Construction & Sustainability

V10 Homes

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