£800m MMC framework to appoint traditional contractors

A National Housing Federation-backed alliance of housing associations and councils is looking for dozens of traditional-build main contractors to join a new modern methods of construction (MMC) framework.

Building Better, which was set up to increase the use of MMC in social housing, is looking for SME builders to lead projects across England and Wales.

A statement from the body said its Integrated Traditional Build & MMC Framework has been 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. This is partly because many offsite firms are focusing on manufacturing rather than taking on principal contractor roles.

The framework will cover the construction of housing, apartments and care homes and will operate under a regional lot structure. A contract notice is set to be issued in March, with successful bidders appointed in the summer.

Building Better is working alongside consultancy Procurement for Housing to design the framework.

Procurement for Housing technical manager Tony Woods 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.”

Building Better director Trina Chakravarti added: “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.”

Contractors seeking more information about the framework opportunity can email Tony Woods at Procurement for Housing.

MMC has been increasingly in the spotlight in recent years following a government drive to increase its uptake and the insolvencies of several major offsite firms including Caledonian Modular, Ilke Homes, Eco Modular Buildings and Mid Group.

Last month, the House of Lords’ Built Environment Committee criticised the government for lacking a clear strategy on its investment in MMC.

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