George Wimpey, the UK’s largest housebuilder, is to give a one-to-one briefing to City analysts extolling the virtues of a new steel-framed house that it is using on a social housing scheme.

The scheme in Essex for housing association Guinness Trust is part of a wider drive by Wimpey to cut build costs across all its divisions.

Wimpey said it reduced the cost of building each of its houses by £1000 last year. Group chief executive Dennis Brandt said meeting this target had helped the company to increase its pre-tax profit by one-third to £112.8m for the year to 31 December 1999.

Wimpey’s margins are still below the industry average, at 8.8%, but Brandt said that he was confident that they would reach 10% within two years. The company’s Wimpey Homes business built 6760 units last year. The average price rose 14% to £85 000.

Upmarket homes division McLean Homes enjoyed a 5% improvement in its volume to 5606 completions, and raised its average selling price 10% to £108 000. US division Morrison Homes increased turnover 21%, which added up to 2574 completions, a 4% increase on the previous year.