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Persimmon to build half its homes offsite

Persimmon is planning to build half of its homes offsite, its managing director has told CN.

Space4 timber frame manufacturing plant 4 housing house scaffolding

Jeff Fairburn said the country’s biggest housebuilder is ramping up the modular approach, or Space4, which currently produces a third of homes, or around 3,500.

He said: “It is primarily going in to our business in the South, but we see opportunities across our sites.

“It really does help where onsite resources are perhaps not as available, hence why it works well in the South.

He added: “It is moving towards 50 per cent – over what period, I’m not entirely sure at the moment.”

Space4 has a conventional timber frame, using preservative-treated, kiln-dried timber and is “extremely energy-efficient”.

Persimmon acquired the factory at Castle Bromwich near Birmingham as part of its takeover of Westbury, in 2006.

It sold 3,250 timber-frame home kits last year, up 19 per cent on the previous year.

Some analysts have predicted a flattening out of housebuilder share prices next year, with the industry having seen the most part of margin recovery.

But Mr Fairburn said his firm is expecting a 12 per cent margin by year-end, rising to 17 per cent in the medium term.

Mr Fairburn declined to comment on whether Persimmon has registered an interest in premium housebuilder Cala, which is for sale.

Persimmon has recently acquired Hillreed under a land acquisition strategy.

In the wider context, Mr Fairburn told CN he expects to see further consolidation as smaller firms struggle to secure finance.

In an interim management statement, the housebuilder said it has now supported more than 450 customers in purchasing a home with a NewBuy mortgage, more than double the amount it had supported in August, and that the cost of loans has fallen slightly.

Mr Fairburn is also expecting the government’s Funding for Lending initiative to help stimulate the mortgage market.

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