In accordance with this research, the Scottish Government has established a collaborative project (the Edinburgh Home Demonstrator project) to develop and test a new business model based on (a) collaborative procurement (b) a clear development pipeline (c) more standardisation of house types and components capable of mass customisation (d) whole life cost evaluation and (e) the adoption of longer, performance-based contracts with benefits sharing. The project began in July 2020 and aspects of the new business model are being tested on a first demonstration site at Granton in Edinburgh. It is intended to further test the model on up to 1,000 new affordable homes across the City Region – all built to net zero standards.
The project is very much work in progress but emerging findings suggest that:
- some councils and Registered Social Landlords are already considering adopting standard house types to reduce the amount of design work and ease manufacturing, and thus reduce costs – the need to maintain flexibility and the ability to respond to place and contextual considerations is also recognised
- manufacturers will only invest in more advanced systems if they are confident that there is a pipeline of development activity that will allow them to achieve a return on that investment
- whilst there is a strong national investment pipeline, we will need to harness its purchasing power by collaborating in procurement and offering greater certainty to supply chains
- although there are many different approaches to design, the variations are often small and there are opportunities to harmonise aspects of these designs in order to improve efficiency in procurement and reduce delivery costs, and
- many councils and Registered Social Landlords have highlighted the need for longer term relationships with housebuilders and contractors where performance can be improved over time.
As this work progresses, we aim to build the learning into the national strategy described below.