Housebuilder teams up with contractors and construction managers to tackle complex brownfield jobs.
Berkeley Group has taken a significant step away from traditional housebuilding by outsourcing up to two-thirds of its workload.

The group is splitting its construction programme three ways: between in-house construction, contractors and construction managers. Particular packages, such as services and steelwork, will be let to a number of special teams.

Berkeley subsidiaries are already hiving off work as part of the shift.

London housebuilder St George is working with construction managers such as Bovis Lend Lease and Symonds subsidiary Woolf.

South-west based Beaufort is partnering with contractors such as Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska.

Crosby Homes is working with construction manager Mace on schemes in Manchester and Birmingham.

Managing director Tony Pidgley said the move to more outsourced work had been brought in gradually over the past 18 months.

He said it had been introduced because of the complexity of Berkeley's brownfield projects and the size of the £799m-turnover group's workload.

We want to spread the risk by building up competent teams to control production

Tony Pidgley, Berkeley Group

Pidgley said: "Our experience is in identifying land, funding projects and putting together marketing for scheme. We want to spread the risk in construction by building up competent teams controlling production."

The switch had been successful, he continued. He said: "The construction management teams have been very proactive. I have been quite impressed with them.

"It's about getting the right balance in our workload. We have to build up relationships with contractors and subcontractors. It's not an arm's length process – we have to be part of a team."

Berkeley's switch in strategy came as housebuilders and contractors were told they would increasingly work together as a result of changes in government policy and types of work.

Speaking at a seminar this week, housebuilding expert and former House Builders Federation chief executive Roger Humber said the advent of planning guidance PPG3 and last year's urban white paper would force contractors and housebuilders to work in tandem.

He added that the increase in brownfield and mixed-use schemes meant that housebuilders would have to buy-in contracting skills.

Humber made his remarks at a seminar held by lawyer Reynolds Porter Chamberlain on Monday.