SOCIAL housing contractor Connaught has won a slice of a £350 million deal to spruce up 34,000 homes in the West Midlands.
The firm, which announced its full-year results this week, will share the first phase of the work for Sandwell Borough Council with Wates and Taylor Woodrow.
The scheme will include upgrading kitchens, bathrooms and heating systems over five and a half years under the Government's Decent Homes programme.
News of the win complements a set of figures that saw like-for-like profits at the AIM-listed firm rise 30 per cent in the year to August. Pre-tax profits hit £5.8 million while turnover went up nearly 50 per cent to £200 million.
But exceptional costs of £8.4 million, following a company restructuring that saw it pull the plug on its corporate sector business and the office fit-out market with the loss of 900 jobs, dragged profits down to a £2.5 million loss.
Chief executive Mark Tincknell said the move was in line with its strategy of concentrating on social housing contracts with the bulk of its £1.1 billion order book made up of Decent Homes work.
This initiative aims to bring council housing stock up to scratch by 2010 but Mr Tincknell said work would not run out for another five years after that. He said:
'Decent Homes is way behind at the moment and we would expect it to extend to 2015 at least.
'There are still another 1.8 million homes in the UK below Decent Homes standards and, with the average spend per house of £15,000, it's good times at the moment.'
Besides building work, Connaught is also looking to draw on its maintenance origins by signing a series of partnering deals with councils to look after the refurbished homes.
Mr Tincknell added: 'We get them up to standard and keep them there.'
Earlier this year Connaught was one of five firms to take a share of the largest Decent Homes contract let so far, a £1 billion plan to upgrade 56,000 homes in Sheffield.