The NHF-backed alliance is looking to appoint dozens of construction firms in England and Wales

An alliance of 30 housing associations and local authorities is seeking dozens of construction firms to work as main contractors for a new £800m modern methods of construction framework.

BB MMC framework

Building Better is looking to appoint dozens of traditional build construction firms to join its MMC framework worth £800m

Procurement for Housing (PfH), a specialist housing sector consultancy, is working with Building Better to develop the £800m framework, which will run over four years.

Traditional construction firms across 10 different regions of England and Wales will be appointed as lead contractors on MMC projects.

The National Housing Federation-backed alliance, Building Better, is working to increase the use of modern methods of construction in social housing.

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Building Better was established in 2018 under the National Housing Federation’s Greenhouse innovation programme.

The purpose behind creating an ‘Integrated Traditional Build and MMC Framework’ was to find “a compliant way of involving trusted, local contractors on MMC projects”, where traditional construction is still needed. 

With an increasing number of MMC manufacturers exclusively providing their systems rather than assuming the main contractor role, Building Better has stated that “housing providers want to bring in local, trusted construction firms who can lead offsite projects”.

The alliance has said this will also allow housing associations and local authorities to continue investing in local contractors. 

Current members of Building Better include: bpha, Halton Housing, Golding Homes, Advantage South West, LiveWest, Magenta Housing, Sevenoaks District Council, Nottingham Community Housing Association, emh Homes, Grand Union Housing Group, Flagship Group, London Borough of Kingston Upon Thames, Platform Housing, rhp and Raven Housing Trust. 

PfH and Building Better have consulted with small and medium-sized building firms nationwide to shape the framework, including simplifying the procurement process and developing an effective contracting environment.

The framework will encompass the construction of housing, apartments, and extra care homes. A contract notice will be issued in March 2024, and successful bidders will be appointed during the summer.

Tony Woods, technical manager of 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 offsite 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.”

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.”