Housing pattern books tipped to ‘transform’ delivery of UK affordable homes

THE three-year Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH) project has developed a new blueprint to help address the UK’s ‘chronic’ housing shortage.

Following 18 months of collaboration and research, AIMCH partners Stewart Milne Group (SMG) and L&Q have created blueprints for developers, housing associations and SMEs to bring affordable homes to market ‘quickly and cost effectively’.

The affordable housing pattern books, featuring 24 designs, have been created to facilitate the construction of cottage flats, bungalows, semi-detached and terraced houses, all of which are described as offering the flexibility to meet the needs of planners and fit in with local character.

A ‘central element’ is the use of closed panel MMC timber technology, optimised to meet 55% PMV (Premanufactured Value), a requirement of Homes England grant funding. Their 0.20 U-Value is said to provide a ‘fit-and-forget, fabric first approach’ to energy efficient building envelope, set to comply with new Jun 22 Part L building regulations.

Both gas and ASHP heating options are factored in, while the layout and fabric efficiency of the envelope is said to ensure that homes in the pattern books are heat pump ready

Developers have leveraged learnings from Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA), Design Standardisation and Product Families (Kit of Parts) and BIM (3D modelling) outputs.

Stewart Milne Group and L&Q plan to deploy the designs in their own development portfolio from spring 2022. In the case of Stewart Milne Homes, current affordable housing developments are being remixed or designed from scratch, using the new range of homes. L&Q are similarly rolling out their range on all new sites, as these come through the production pipeline.

Stewart Dalgarno, director of innovation and sustainability at Stewart Milne Group, and AIMCH project director, said, “Typically, in the affordable homes sector, design and housing procurement are done on an isolated project-by-project basis, which potentially leads to higher costs, inefficiencies and variability in quality. Because of this, AIMCH sees enormous potential for accelerated use of pattern books in the sector.

“Homes England affordable housing funding is already encouraging a more diverse mix of affordable home providers – SMEs and new entrant developers. This group is unlikely to have in-house technical teams to develop house type designs and associated collateral, so being able to reach for pre-configured, pre-approved housing designs, that can be deployed at pace, to accelerate and increase overall housing output is going to be an attractive option.

“Furthermore, through endorsement from regulators, funders, and insurers, AIMCH believes that housing pattern books and standardised products will become commonplace in the affordable housing sector.”

Wayne Hill, production strategy director at L&Q, added, “L&Q is proud to be leading the way in the adoption of off site technologies in the affordable housing sector. These developed approaches offer a clear way for housebuilders, housing associations and local authorities to adopt MMC methods, and the efficiencies which come with them, to build homes for those who need them the most. We have an ambitious roadmap which is seeing us roll out MMC across our development programme, and look forward to utilising the great learning of this project in our portfolio this year.”