Can offsite pre-finishing give new developments a flying start?

Can offsite pre-finishing give new developments a flying start?

Can offsite partners add value and increase efficiency to the interior of a new home? Howard Morris, Managing Director at Trade Fabrication Systems (TFS), discusses the advancements in pre-finishing techniques and how to effectively introduce these into the build programme.

Traditionally, all interior finishing works in new homes are completed onsite. An essential element of finalising the build and ensuring the house is attractive to potential buyers, a high quality finish can leverage a competitive advantage. For housebuilders, in a bid to improve efficiency, reduce mess and risk of damage onsite, all whilst improving quality for the end user, it is becoming increasingly popular to turn to offsite partners for pre-finishing methods.

This growing trend is being led by more agile and regional housebuilders who have recognised the opportunity to drive efficiencies and add value into interiors.

The ability to factory finish any wood based substrate to a specific requirement is a simple solution for housebuilders to process value into interior design, but identifying where this approach will fit in a scheme requires thought and planning at the design phase.

Seizing opportunities
Understanding the potential of a pre-finishing partner is the first step in seizing opportunities to add value into interior design. In housebuilding, using this method can improve efficiencies as well as speed up site processes.

The ability to pre-finish any timber based substrate away from site in a manufacturing facility has the potential to save time and money for housebuilders. To enhance colour, embrace the natural aesthetic of the wood and coat for performance or even health and safety benefits – pre-finishing partners have the ability to do this away from site helping to increase the interior offerings.

In order to evaluate the benefits of a partnership, the most natural place to start would be doors. Traditionally, doorsets are one of the last packages to be implemented prior to handover. Usually a time-consuming process, a door would arrive to site requiring hinge plates and lock mortices and a decorator would then paint the doors to the specification detailed.

Recent advancements in pre-finishing manufacturing have opened up the potential to pre-cut the door sets before they are sent to site. Completed prior to coating, the risk of damaging the door onsite is significantly reduced and accuracy is greatly improved.

By using offsite methods, the doors can be finished to a consistent factory quality, reducing the need for additional man hours onsite to paint the doors. Not only can doors be completed offsite ready for installation, but also delivered individually wrapped and protected ‘just-in- time’ to align with trade sequencing.

Pre-finished black interior doors

Building a USP
Regional housebuilder, Melrose Homes has adopted this technique and has been reaping the operational and commercial benefits for the last four years.

Previously buying doors through builders’ merchants and painting them onsite, in order to improve efficiency and adapt to the modern aesthetic, Melrose Homes trialled a sample of doors using a pre-finishing partner. In a bid to stand out amongst the highly competitive housing market, the housebuilder sought a signature design statement by implementing black doors throughout the entirety of its high-specification developments.

When initially scoping out the concept, the developer was worried about the cost of using a manufacturing partner. However, using a business-to-business partner who can pre-finish substrates to individual specification is not only much more efficient than traditional techniques, but has also proven to be significantly more cost effective than an onsite labourer.

Delivered to site, individually wrapped and ready for installation, Melrose Homes hang the doors wrapped in polythene in an effort to reduce the risk of damaging the paintwork onsite whilst the remainder of the interior is completed. Not only is this more cost effective, but the housebuilder has observed that there is less room for error by using a pre-finishing partner.

Completed to the highest standard, from the texture to the finish, Melrose Homes has found this to be an easy way to add value to the final touches in a high-specification design.

A pre-finished interior door

Innovating onsite
Understanding that any timber product can be pre-finished in this way, another regional housebuilder has undertaken a pre-finishing partnership on a much wider scale.

Developing large-scale new-build housing ranging in price from £160,000 to £600,000, Kingswood Homes consistently strives to differentiate itself from the competition. Seeking an advantage against other housing developers, it turned to a pre-finishing partner to offer greater choice throughout the build programme.

Onsite, all timber based products are sent to a pre-finishing facility to be coated and primed to specification. In an ambition to add value into the build programme for potential buyers, doors, soffits and fascias are sprayed to order saving time, improving the aesthetic but most importantly, significantly raising the standard of the finish.

One driving factor behind the move from traditional methods pre-finishing was the opportunity to offer potential customers more choice. As standard, Kingswood Homes provides a choice of three different door colours to support the modern interior.

As well as choice, the pre-finishing methods have significant cost reducing benefits, by minimising the need for additional man hours onsite.

There are not many times when an opportunity comes along where a service is faster, more cost effective and the quality is high, usually one or more is compromised. Speaking from experience, forward thinking UK housebuilders have found a solution that delivers this triple treat. Traditional methods will always be an essential part of finishing a house build, but pre- finishing techniques can help along the way by saving time, money, improving accuracy and increasing overall efficiency.

Pre-finishing can also be used on exterior materials

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