Procure Plus recently launched Osco Homes – a wholly owned subsidiary that aims to deliver affordable houses constructed offsite at a factory based in HM Prison Hindley, Greater Manchester. The target for Osco Homes is to initially build two homes a week and rising. Within three years Osco Homes hope to reach an output of 1,000 homes a year. The model is for the prisoners to be trained and then supported into full time employment upon release. So far, five prisoners have been released from Hindley and all are in full time employment, three with Osco Homes.
This scheme is due to be rolled out as a wide spread housing solution across many projects. The first project to be completed through the scheme – the Lockies – consists of eight bungalows for assisted living and older tenants based in South Kirby. The bungalows are being built for affordable rent and should be on the market later this year.
DESIGN AND VISION
EOS used engineering from 3E prior to frame drawings being sent to EOS to reduce design time. They used external suppliers for ancillary products which were then supplied in a single package. This scheme was priced as a lump sum allowing cost certainty during initial feasibility and throughout the scheme. By utilising BIM level 2 modelling and design approaches, lead times were significantly reduced, meaning that manufacture and delivery slots were known and pre-programmed weeks in advance.
The impact of the identical, quality checked frame goes on through the project with more efficient material use through better planning, time savings and higher quality due to repeatability, all of which are due to the engineering tolerances that a steel frame provides. The engineering accuracy of the steel enabled the externally finished panels to be assembled quickly and accurately together on site, allowing a bungalow to be watertight within a week and rapidly speeding up the on site delivery.
EOS were selected to supply their floor and roof cassettes to the project. In addition to offering 150mm range, they were able to provide Osco Homes with 200 and 250mm deep sections in gauge thickness ranging from 1.2mm to 2mm. Section lengths are fully customisable. The FRAMA machine was used on both the floor and roof cassettes to create deep sections, achieving 5m spans. EOS also provided gable end panels and walls for the build – the walls were pre-formed with doors and windows. All solutions were manufactured from automated software direct to the machines.
EOS used their technical expertise and manufacturing capabilities to supply unitised offsite housing solutions to Osco homes in the form of flat pack frames. The panels themselves were assembled by prisoners at HMP Hindley, with EOS assisting when required. Some of the frames were supplied pre-assembled, before being shipped to site as fully formed wall panels – rapidly reducing the site programme using offsite techniques. Site teams then assembled the unitised panels for a fast and efficient erected housing solution.
The project used a unitised system that was sent to site completely finished. It also utilised brick slip systems offsite to achieve a traditional feel which was sympathetic to the local area and its intended use.
This a pioneering project uses fully offsite manufactured housing solutions as well as acting on the issues brought to light in the government’s White Paper. This, paired with the employment of prisoners by non-profit company, Osco Homes, to be trained up in offsite construction with the aim of filling the skills gap in the industry, makes it a truly innovative project.