Delivering Great Homes Group – October meeting update

The group’s most recent meeting included discussions on modern methods of construction and how the sector can ensure the safe delivery of high quality new homes by third party contractors.

8 November 2018

The Delivering Great Homes Group provides strategic input to help shape and inform our policy work relating to the delivery of great homes. This work includes, but is not limited to, funding and investment (public and private), the planning system and the land market. 

At the October meeting, the group talked about modern methods of construction, the Social Housing Green Paper, the 'Intelligent Client' function, and the Federation of Master Builders presented a proposal about a construction licensing campaign.

Construction Licensing Campaign

Sarah McMonagle of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) presented a proposal to require all construction firms to hold a licence to practice, similar to the way the industry is regulated in countries like Germany and Australia. 

The group discussed how housing associations could work more closely with small and medium-sized (SME) builders, and some of barriers, including procurement rules and risk appetite. The Federation will suggest to Regional Development Groups that they consider inviting a regional FMB representative to present, and bring together some smaller members who have tried engaging SME builders and the FMB to address some of the challenges to working together. 

The intelligent client function

The group discussed how the sector can ensure high quality and the safe delivery of new homes by third party contractors. The Hackitt Review is likely to lead to significantly more focus on the responsibility of the commissioning client even when design and build (D&B) contracts are used. There is also an acknowledgment from members that greater scrutiny of development work might be needed to drive up quality.

Lucy Grove, the Federation's Grenfell Programme Lead, joined the meeting and is exploring whether there is a need for more guidance or support to housing associations on how to best fulfil the client function. The group agreed this is an important issue, that there are skills and competency gaps and a culture change is needed, but that we also need to demand changes in the construction industry itself. 

The Social Housing Green Paper

The group talked about the supply elements of the Green Paper. The Federation will put in a response which makes the broader case for investment in new supply but specifically focus on two questions in the paper:

  • the benefits of longer term certainty in grant funding
  • ways to make shared ownership easier to access

Modern methods of construction (MMC) 

The group discussed the Building Better project, and other initiatives taking place around the country around offsite manufacturing and MMC. We agreed that the Federation’s role, at least initially, is to:

  • gather and share information on all the initiatives underway and
  • capture and share lessons from previous attempts at collaboration around MMC
  • consider producing guidance on the key questions to ask when procuring