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Director of new homes, Alex Dixon, is committed to overseeing the provision of high-quality, safe and efficient homes for as many people as possible. In his latest blog he talks about the importance of keeping costs to a minimum to ensure these aims are met when building homes for some of our most vulnerable customers.

We aim to provide around 600 new homes a year and MyPlace is an integral part of this plan. MyPlace schemes are made up of 14 self-contained one-bedroom apartments that have been specifically designed to provide a safe and secure home for people living with  long-term needs such as a learning or physical disability.

When we started thinking about developing this type of accommodation it was really important that we created homes that provide everything that our customers need. This includes them having their own front door, independence, and a safe, secure home that allows them to take advantage of any opportunities that come their way. And with all the uncertainty in the housing sector and changes to funding and welfare we had to make sure that whatever we developed was done in as cost-effective a way as possible. The idea was to minimise costs and maximise quality and safety and I think that MyPlace is great example of how we’re doing this really well.


Samuel Place

Samuel Place

We get asked about the surplus’ we make, with many wondering, if we’re not-for-profit why we need to make profit at all. Well, we invest the profit we make back into what we do including building new homes. As well as the surplus we reinvest, we have also borrowed money, a lot of which has been used to build the homes we manage. This reinvestment and additional borrowing enables us to build the MyPlace schemes without any government grant. This does mean it’s more risky for us and this is why we try and make savings wherever possible without compromising on quality – quite a tall order but I think we’re doing OK.

To help us make the building as cost efficient as possible the MyPlace developments are standardised – by this I mean that as far as we can all of the dimensions of elevations, roof pitches, rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, doors and windows are the same for every build. The importance of this can be seen in the kitchens and bathrooms as examples. Building all of these to the same size and dimensions means that the procurement of materials such as appliances, kitchen units, showers and toilets is much cheaper as we can buy in bulk, safe in the knowledge that everything will fit.


All savings made are ploughed straight back into the programme – allowing us to build more homes for our customers for the same cost which helps us to meet our strategic aim of increasing the supply of the right homes.

This standardisation reduces the time (and costs to us) that architects have to spend on the job. We’re also finding that by sticking to a tried and tested method, our colleagues working on site and our sub-contracted builders are becoming more efficient with every build. The obvious advantage to this is that the fixed costs attached to being on site (things like site management and cabin hire) can be kept to a minimum. We can save thousands of pounds on every build by completing ahead of schedule and the standardisation really helps us to achieve this.

We are also trying to minimise other costs and have not had a gas main installed in the latest MyPlace schemes. This saves on installation and maintenance costs for us but also gives our customers one less bill to think about. All of our MyPlace schemes are built with a high level of thermal insulation making the apartments as energy-efficient and cheap to run as possible. Our customers always say that this is really important to them and so we put it at the top of our list.

Happy customers at Millward Place

Happy customers at Millward Place


All savings made are ploughed straight back into the programme – allowing us to build more homes for our customers for the same cost which helps us to meet our strategic aim of increasing the supply of the right homes. Our aim is to minimise costs and maximise quality and safety rather than make profits. We recognise the importance of providing the right homes for our customers and the more of this type of home that we can offer, the better service we are giving to those in need of specialist accommodation.

Our first two MyPlace schemes are now open. Millward Place in Birmingham was completed in September 2015 and is now home to people with a visual impairment. Our second development, Samuel Place in Redditch, opened its doors in March 2016 and is home to people living with a learning disability. We’re already on site in three other areas and have acquired land in four further locations to build MyPlace homes on in the near future – exciting times for all.

Director of development and construction

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