Everyday Offsite – Partnering with house builders in a full offsite housing solution

Sean Og CoyleIn advance of the launch of an offsite house, Managing Director, Sean Og Coyle explains what actions The Keystone Group is taking to meet the challenges outlined in the Government’s white paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’.

“This country doesn’t have enough homes. That’s not a personal opinion or a political calculation. It’s a simple fact.” Stark words indeed from Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, but it is a reality with which the British public are faced. The Government’s determined focus on the need to address the housing crisis has thrown down the gauntlet to the house building industry.

Ambitious targets, hampered by the lack of skills and labour shortages, leaves every house builder in the country considering how they can join the current “offsite” revolution in our industry. Of course, none of this comes as a surprise to those of us in the industry, which is why The Keystone Group has progressively invested in design and manufacturing capabilities to meet these challenges.

We operate at the sharp end, working closely with house builders to develop the innovative solutions which are most likely to be adopted on the basis that they are commercially sound and inherently practical.

Central to the themes of this latest white paper are the issues of increasing the speed of construction and diversifying the market. The government has given its commitment to exploring innovation and to embracing modern methods of construction, citing the many advantages this will bring to this broken industry. The white paper reports: “…homes constructed offsite can be built up to 30% more quickly than traditional methods and with a potential 25% reduction in costs. They are high quality, reliable, more productive and can be highly efficient.
They can require fewer people onsite, helping to mitigate the skills shortage. Some firms are increasing their use of these methods, but we need to go further.”

Given the above assertions, we believe that the future supply of housing will be met by either factory built modular homes or a more versatile factory fabricated flat pack system. The Keystone Group’s extensive product range covers all the major components needed to deliver the latter and we are currently partnering developers in delivering this solution.

We have embraced the increasing demand from our house builder customers for offsite components, and the natural step as we see it is to provide a more full-scale approach to housing solutions.

We believe that this development will provide a very powerful position for house builders to address the housing crisis with the increase in the speed of construction that this will entail, and are committed to partnering them in this approach.

In a move towards this full house solution, Smartroof has developed a reusable, purpose-built marketing suite to provide the all-important first impression for potential house buyers. This is an ideal location to showcase the house types on offer in a particular development. The Smart Suite is a factory built timber frame structure that can be erected in a matter of hours onsite, with the house builder then finishing to their particular specification. The speed of construction provided by Smartroof is of great benefit, allowing sales to be made before construction on the rest of the site has even started. Moreover, the complete structure can be converted into a garage or dismantled and erected onto another site, allowing the sales process to begin much more quickly and improving efficiency for the builder.

Smartroof roof panel system

Our offsite housing project draws on the expertise within our timber division including our own roof truss company, our newly acquired timber frame house company and market leading Smartroof. The reality is that factory built homes can literally be installed onsite in days rather than months. This dramatically reduces the pressures currently associated with the skills shortage and the need for multiple skilled trades onsite.

Our reputation in the industry is built upon our existing award winning innovations across a range of offsite products. This track record attracts interest amongst major developers and leads to their engagement with our R&D team which gets involved in its strategic planning for new building methods.

We have recently engaged the services of Chris Hagan to spearhead this project, therefore demonstrating our commitment to the product. Chris’s experience at Space4, the timber frame division of Persimmon Homes, will help us to serve the market with a factory built house, maintaining the expertise and customer care that customers have come to expect from The Keystone Group.

Keystone’s track record in offsite to date has been strong. We have focused on developing factory built housing components which enable house builders to enjoy the key benefits of offsite. These include build quality, enhanced energy efficiency and a reduction of onsite risks to the health and safety of staff.