Poor-quality traditional builds, increasing production costs and a substantial skills shortage in the construction sector are all factors which have led to heightened demand for innovative or non-traditional construction methods in recent years.
However, this new approach also brings its own challenges when it comes to demonstrating the quality and durability of the build and systems to funders, lenders, valuers and purchasers. This is where the Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS) comes in…
What is the Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme?
A recognised accreditation for innovative building systems that include both product and process – BOPAS offers designers, manufacturers, lenders, valuers and, ultimately, buyers confidence in modern construction methods. Whilst methods do already exist to assess product, they are not necessarily suited to off-site manufacturing; BOPAS builds on existing forms of product certification but, uniquely, its scope of assessment extends to the completed structure.
In consultation with the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Building Societies Association, the scheme has been jointly developed by Buildoffsite, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Lloyd's Register and BLP Insurance – and consists of three elements:
- Lloyd’s Register accreditation process: this step evaluates and facilitates the adoption of best practice by designers and manufacturers in key performance areas such as risk management, competency management, configuration management, procurement management and process control.
- BLP durability and maintenance assessment: this is based on a standard time frame of 60 years – the minimum durability expectation for structural components – and is designed to provide assurance on the probable service life of a building.
- BOPAS web-based database: this assists valuers, surveyors and lenders in the provision of valuations and advice for their clients by providing information regarding registered sites and individual builds which have been accredited under the scheme.
Why was BOPAS developed?
Manufacturers of innovative systems habitually struggle to secure development funding unless they are able to demonstrate that the end build will be mortgageable. Mortgage lenders are often reluctant to lend against forms of construction with which they are not familiar, and their valuers may refuse to value properties that incorporate unfamiliar building systems.
Problems frequently arise during the first sale but can also impact subsequent transactions where there is no warranty in place – particularly since modifications to the build are more likely to have been carried out and issues affecting durability are more likely to have appeared further down the line. As a result, the scheme was developed to address the concerns and perceived risks associated with bringing non-traditional building systems to the market.
Why is the scheme important?
The BOPAS website provides links to manufacturers’ information and technical specifications, ensuring a greater sense of transparency within the innovative or non-traditional build sector. This is beneficial for not only the designers and manufacturers – who are able to present evidence that their builds have been constructed in accordance with the accreditation – but also for lenders and valuers, who can be confident that builds have followed best practice guidelines and have undergone the appropriate assessments.
BOPAS is also recognised by the principal mortgage lenders and provides the necessary assurance that the accredited construction technology, system or end build will be readily mortgageable for at least 60 years – which is reassuring for potential buyers.
Finally, many housing associations require their manufacturers and product suppliers to have BOPAS accreditation – so it is vital for manufacturers to ensure any developments incorporating non-traditional building systems will deliver consistent performance in terms of both energy efficiency and durability for the 60-year life cycle.
Building for the future
All NetZero Buildings are fully accredited with BOPAS – combining advanced design and superior systems with energy efficiency to produce a better and more cost-effective build. We have designed and delivered over 100 new school buildings in recent years and our proprietary and award-winning design is now the UK’s leading energy efficient educational building programme.
Looking ahead, we also have ambitious plans within the housing sector – and from 2019, our latest joint-venture with a leading UK property partner will see NetZero Buildings deliver 250 off-site manufactured electric homes a year at sites across the country.
To find out more about our high-quality, durable off-site builds and our innovative plans for the future, please get in touch today.