Britain's largest factory-assembled affordable housing project, the Peabody Trust's Raines Dairy in north London, was handed over this week
But celebrations on reaching a milestone in off-site construction were subdued after the project's six-month construction period dragged on for 10 and the finished product turned out to lack the pronounced modelling and vivid colours of the original design.

Comprising 51 shared-ownership flats with 10 live–work units on the ground floor, Raines Dairy was designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and built for £7.5m by Wates Construction. The flats were prefabricated by Yorkon at its plant in York as pairs of steel-framed volumetric modules measuring 11.6 × 3.8 m. The construction team said it took only 30 minutes to crane each module into position and bolt it into place.

Justin Elcombe, Peabody's head of development, said the late completion was the result of unexpected ground conditions.

"The programme was knocked out from day one, as we found a sewer running through the site," he said.

The finished product lacks the modelling and colours of the original

On top of that, high winds caused the construction team to miss its prearranged access slots on adjoining railway lands, from where it planned to crane in the modules.

Elcombe said the final account would be "within touching distance" of the original £7.5m contract price. He added that the design had been value-engineered before the contract was agreed by cutting out the oversailing roof canopy and projecting balconies, and by toning down the colours of the side panels. "I think it looks terrific," he said.

Peabody has invited tenders for its third volumetric housing project, a scheme of 30 flats and houses at Winton School in King's Cross, central London. The architect is Cartwright Pickard, who designed Peabody's first venture into volumetric construction at nearby Murray Grove, completed in 1999.