A new government report has examined the lessons learned so far from the £60,000 housing competition. Peter Caplehorn of Scott Brownrigg considers the implications for specifiers

The government’s £60,000 home initiative to change the way the industry looks at housing procurement has now resulted in nearly 1000 homes under construction, with more planned, using off-site manufacture. The Department for Communities and Local Government and English Partnerships have produced a report entitled Lessons Learnt: Designed for Manufacture – the challenge to build a quality home for £60K. Below we highlight the lessons identified in the report and Peter Caplehorn of Scott Brownrigg spells them out for specifiers.



The report says: “Construction costs can be tamed.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “Define what is required and ensure that costs are based on fully worked-up designs, not theoretical rates.”



The report says: “Density with houses, not just flats.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “Look very closely at the relationship of public to private spaces, creating both in harmony with the dwelling.”



The report says: “A house is for ever, not just the first sale.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “Build in flexibility by using the roof space, providing a basement, making internal walls relocatable and making plumbing systems easy to replace.”



The report says: “Quality and cost are compatible.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “Ensure that the original prototype is thoroughly thought through. Factory production can then ensure that quality and performance are maintained and, importantly, so is the cost.”



The report says: “One-thousand-and-one house types.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “Homeowners’ tastes can be satisfied by keeping the underlying specification the same, but allowing subtle variations to finishes.”



The report says: “Innovation is for everyone.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “There is plenty to be learned about OSM from the examples here, although challenges still remain in areas of thermal and acoustic performance.”


New ideas

The report says: “New players bring new ideas.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “The OSM arena offers opportunities for non-construction companies to get involved with their fresh perspective and innovative ideas.”



The report says: “Future-proof homes.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “Features like roof lights, better than regulations U-values, and flexible use of space will allow interiors to be easily altered to match homeowners’ changing requirements.



The report says: “Place and product must work together.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “Masterplanning and infrastructure design around the dwellings is of equal importance if they are to be successful.”



The report says: “Vision can be achieved when government, industry and community get together.”

Scott Brownrigg says: “The first homes will be occupied this summer. Keeping that vision fresh is now the challenge.”

Despite several shortcomings and a hesitant start, the project has been able to demonstrate that factory manufacture can create huge benefits across the housing sector. If the specifier can nail down the requirements, industry can respond, so there is no need to take refuge in the conventional. The next challenge is to develop the momentum and turn OSM into the industry it should and can be – houses that really are fit for 21st-century living.

Check points

  • Specifiers can use the £60,000 programme to set the example and for inspiration.
  • Ensure that you make clear that your prescribed route is OSM.
  • Research expertise and knowledge are available but need to be sought out.
  • The conventional industry will be very persuasive in resisting OSM.
  • Shortcomings in the specification will be very obvious.

Off-site housing