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The UK’s build-to-rent (BTR) market is set to grow. Property agent Savills recently estimated that the sector will increase in value from £9.6 billion today to a potential £543.6 billion once it reaches maturity. Steve Thompson from steel framing specialists EOS, discusses the BTR opportunity for the offsite sector.
The predicted meteoric rise of BTR presents major opportunities for offsite innovators such as EOS. This sector is far from the ‘buy them cheap stack them high’ mentality of the rental homes of the past and is about demonstrating critical value to clients and investors.
Productivity is King
A key appeal of the BTR model for institutional funders and developers is its ability to provide long-term investment opportunities. Unlike traditional multi-residential projects, where investors recoup expenditure more quickly through sales of new homes, BTR investors take their return from rental receipts over many years, providing a steady income stream.
So, what does this mean for the design and construction of BTR buildings? Firstly, boosting productivity is essential. The faster a BTR project can be built and let, the faster investors can begin recovering their initial capital outlay. Material providers and installers should focus on improving their offer to accelerate project delivery. The repeatable design of many BTR buildings makes them well-placed to unlock the productivity gains offered by offsite construction, including many larger BTR developers that have the capital to invest in offsite manufacturing techniques.
One such scheme that illustrates this clearly is Quintain’s north-west London project with outline planning consent for an 85-acre mixed-use development with major BTR elements. This development allowed the team at EOS to demonstrate our understanding of the BTR sector as a long-term asset class, and evidence how we can maximise returns for investors by putting the customer front and centre of our approach.
Located in the heart of Wembley Park, NW07 is a contemporary residential and retail development which sits between Page Place and Elvin Square. With 187 units of BTR accommodation, the architecture is defined by four stepped buildings, echoing the form of the adjacent, Flanagan Lawrence designed the Alto building. The facade is composed of tall, vertical frames, punctuated with balconies that allow each apartment to enjoy wide and open views. Adjacent to the main residential entrance on the ground floor, a series of community spaces are provided to promote interaction between residents.
Also part of this scheme, NW08 offers 174 residential units, comprising 108 build to rent units and 66 affordable housing apartments, all located above retail space at ground level. The facades create a dynamic form with roof terraces and large projecting balconies on the southern elevation which provide dramatic views of the stadium, and tall vertical recesses that have been carved into the thick blade walls to provide locations for windows and balconies. Both projects create key focal points on the approach to the iconic Wembley stadium.
Our brief for the scheme was to rapidly deliver fully-engineered steel framing infill solutions to BIM Level 2 – executed with high precision and finished to an outstanding quality. Ahead of schedule and on budget, EOS fulfilled the brief with highly cost-effective offsite manufactured steel framing systems for different building types, across one of the UK’s largest construction sites.
The second, and perhaps most important step to maximise returns is ensuring a steady income from residents. Customer satisfaction is what determines the long-term occupancy rates and makes a project a success.
A larger upfront investment in build quality is likely to pay dividends in the long run. One of the more obvious places to invest is in the building fabric. Installing more durable materials for walls and partitions can bring efficiencies in both maintenance and energy costs. When it comes to residents’ quality of life, these materials have a vital role to play by providing a high-quality finish and a comfortable living environment. Ensuring peace of mind on fire safety by working with competent sub-contractors and installing tested and accredited systems is also crucial.
By engaging early with BTR clients and specifiers, manufacturers can advise on opportunities to influence the design to maximise the lettable floor space – boosting room for residents and realising a significant increase in potential income. BTR is here to stay in the UK and we need to make sure we’re part of its future.
With a comprehensive spectrum of products and services, including the ground-breaking Thrubuild® systems, a fully tested load-bearing, light steel solution, underpinned by a substantial investment in state-of the-art technology, EOS has the capability and capacity to meet the exacting demands of the construction industry. For more details on products and services visit: www.eosframing.co.uk