• Books/Reports

Better Procurement for Better Homes

'Better Procurement for Better Homes' is the first comprehensive guide to help housing associations and local authorities procure and deliver higher quality homes for their residents. The report has been developed by a Housing Forum cross-sector working group chaired by Matthew Goulcher, our Managing Director.

The group has set out a series of guidelines for improving design and construction quality, avoiding costly mistakes and managing risks, which include:

  • The client setting a clear vision plan for the project’s design, procurement and delivery
  • Ensuring the right client project leadership and governance is in place to provide the necessary project guardianship
  • Promoting value-based procurement with clear selection criteria, including a price valuation model that recognises quality and does not promote a ‘race to the bottom’
  • Adopting a more collaborative approach between client, consultants and contractors to get the best value for money
  • Promoting early contractor appointment and engagement
  • Maintaining a consistent contractor supply chain team and a design team in a responsible and influential role from concept to completion and occupation, so as to provide a golden thread of information as set out in the draft Building Safety Bill
  • Adopting measures to protect and lock in design quality
  • Adopting measures to ensure improved quality in construction through improved inspection
  • Ensuring residents are involved meaningfully throughout the process.

The quality failures that have come to light across many housing schemes, and tragically in the Grenfell Tower disaster, have galvanised unprecedented determination from industry and government to overhaul quality and safety. At the heart of this new mindset is an acceptance that improved procurement practices are essential to the reforms.

The guide provides pointers on the contractual tools, including pre-construction services agreements and project cost plans that can underpin a more collaborative approach and help reduce risks. A series of case studies drive the points home.

One year after we launched 'Better Procurement for Better Homes', a new supplementary guidance document was published. This deals with the current high inflation/high risk environment affecting many housing developments, specifically the 40-year-high inflation rate, fuelled by rising energy costs and global supply chain difficulties, which has resulted in a tough landscape for procuring construction work, as contractors and their specialists become reluctant to commit to fixed prices too far in advance of work starting. The supplementary guidance focuses on building trust, involving finance and procurement teams, managing risks equitably, engaging early and using flexible contracting.