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Off-site does not mean Offshore

hatch accelerator fundinghatch. Chief Operating Officer, Chris Spiceley, talks candidly about “Off-site” versus “Offshore”.

How can Local Authorities (LA) and Housing associations (HA) gain more control over the supply and quality of the housing our communities so badly need? Off-site manufacturing (OSM) is often suggested as part of the solution but the perception is it comes with a gordian knot of challenges: cyclical demand – lack of investment – poor recruitment & training – lack of understanding – low margins – lowest price always wins. So how do we unpick this piece by piece?

Let us start with the definitions, the Oxford Dictionary states these as:
Off-site: Taking place or situated away from a particular site or premises.
Offshore: Made, situated, or conducting business abroad, especially in order to take advantage of lower costs or less stringent regulation.

Shipping the single biggest capital purchase for any LA or HA from remote locations may engender lower costs (in terms of a simple £/m2 assessment) but not when assessing the whole cost and value of an approach. Knock-on effects of poor quality product cause multiple inefficiencies throughout the build and asset life.

On a more intangible point, it disengages the community from any involvement in building the communities they need. Importing from the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Ireland or the self-styled republic of Yorkshire (google it…they even have their own international football team) makes no sense in this age of supporting your community. So what if you can:

– Empower your local supply chain by retaining their skills but in an environment that is safer, more conducive to higher quality;
– Empower your community through providing housing they built;
– Empower your community by creating jobs they need in areas you/they need it;
– Save capital expenditure by empowering a facility that delivers your housing locally, faster and to a higher quality standard than achieved elsewhere (I admit Yorkshire does it well).

Any public sector body has a duty to buy at the most economically advantageous price against the right scope. The key here is both the definition of ‘economically advantageous’ (advantageous to whom?) and ‘scope’.

Buying at the lowest price may not deliver other attributes desired by the body – employment created locally; pounds spent in the location so benefiting the community; inward investment in people, training, industrial capacity, new industry 4.0 businesses. Spend locally starts to initiate tangible steps towards a circular economy.

Established off-site manufacturers will tell you the capex on creating a facility is a serious barrier to entry, but they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Strange that, how often do you hear that housebuilders also have an interest in maintaining the status quo? Doing the same activity again and again and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.

Explore something different. Can we create a facility in our community that delivers our housing, faster to a higher quality, cost comparable to traditional building? You can. We at hatch. would love to help you get there.

There is a new way.

hatch. housing delivery evolved.