The startup modular housing manufacturer has 400 units in the pipeline as it prepares to go into full production and is ready to expand into a second unit around the corner from its base in Liverpool, chief executive Luke Barnes told guests at the launch event on Friday.
Barnes said more than £5m had been invested into the business to date, finance provided by high net worth individuals. The prototype houses on either side of the factory car park cost £105/sq ft and £110/sq ft to make, delivered and installed. The initial customers have all been private developers. The target market is developers and housing associations producing between 50 and 500 homes a year. Barnes said Ideal is not appealing to the volume housebuilders.
The factory actually opened a year ago but since then, Barnes said, the company has focused on refining its products and working with customers to design the first set of modules to come off the production line. Ideal has in-house architects and can work with external client architects as well as its own. The minimum run for a design type is 10 units. Ideal’s range includes everything from a detached bungalow to a 15-storey block of flats.
Barnes said the first two orders were for around 75 apartments/houses and 150 apartments. The capacity for the first factory is 500 units a year, or 900 modules – some units take more than one module, for instance upstairs and downstairs. Modules are limited in size to five metres wide in order to be able to be transported by road. A two-storey house can be created in as little as five days on Ideal’s nine-stage assembly process.
The second factory site, also at Triumph Business Park in Hunts Cross, south Liverpool, has capacity for 1,500 units/year and is available as soon as required.
Barnes said: “We’re now extremely excited to be rolling our first project homes off the line in the coming weeks.”
The launch ceremony was attended by guests from local authorities, private developers, housing associations, suppliers and architects. Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, gave a short speech and cut the ribbon to mark the occasion. Full production is due to begin in March, and Barnes is busy recruiting a full team. He needs 160 staff; there are 40 at the moment. Around 20% of Ideal’s workforce will be skilled, the remainder will be unskilled and trained up to do a particular job.
The units are approved under BOPAS, Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme, and Council of Mortgage Lenders and warranty providers including Premier Guarantee. Ideal can also act as the principal contractor and carry out the groundworks needed.
The homes are more energy efficient and quieter than standard brick homes, Barnes said, with superior air tightness, and the benefits of being an “engineered product”.