The Northampton-based housebuilder impressed the judges with a range of innovations demonstrating its commitment to building communities, protecting the environment and training staff. Wilcon is rolling out a new brand called the Lifebuilding Company, which will leave sites with the legacy of neighbourhood associations and shared community facilities such as cybercafes. It has set itself 25 sustainability targets covering landbuying policy, reducing site pollution and improving insulation standards. The targets are supported by a policy of increasing timber-frame construction to 40% of its 4000-5000 home annual output, and streamlining procurement by using the internet. Last year, it invested 3% of its £442m turnover in training, and its new ideas include a Construction Inudstry Training Board-accredited Assistant Site Managers Academy.
Westbury continues to be a pioneer in the fields of prefabricated construction and financial services for homebuyers. Its Space4 factory, which aims to turn the 4200-homes-a-year company from a conventional builder into a precision assembler, is now in production after two successful pilots. Meanwhile, its Westbury Direct brand has spawned a new company, Incresco, which uses web technology to source mortgage and insurance deals.
Last year, Beazer saw its customer satisfaction rates rise from 70% to 82%, and it is now introducing a series of initiatives to lift its average higher. They include the development of highly insulated, prefabricated timber-frame homes, a stronger zero-defect campaign and software to track customer complaints. A new environmental committee has implemented recycling policies on site and in the office, and is now targeting business mileage.
Barratt's continued stress on customer service stood it in good stead. Last year, it introduced a customer care manual, and standard checklists for site managers to use at every stage of construction. It continues to lead the field in innovative office-to-residential conversions, and has achieved a group average of 70% brownfield construction thanks to sites such as Barrier Point, London E16, once a construction compound for the Thames Barrier.
Building Awards 2001
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Major housebuilder of the year: more than 2000 homes