T HE BUILDTORENT
The build-to-rent market is gathering momentum, a racting rising investment in London and beyond. Building
products manufacturers have a key role to play in supporting this growing sector and need to communicate the
value that they can bring, says Nicola Chapman, business development director at Etex Building Performance.
The build-to-rent (BTR) market is
booming, benefi ting from growing
investment and government backing.
Total capital investment into the sector
reached £2.4 billion for the fi rst time in 2017,
according to data from CBRE, while the revised
National Planning Policy Framework identifi ed
BTR as a critical part of the mixed tenure approach
needed to address the housing crisis.
Crucially, we are seeing BTR beginning to extend
its reach outside the capital. The British Property
Federation has shown that the number of buildto
rent homes built or under construction in the
regions has now outstripped those in the capital.
This burgeoning market presents major
opportunities for materials suppliers and we
need to communicate the value we can bring. In
particular, materials providers must consider the
needs of BTR as a long-term asset class and the
importance of putting the customer at the centre of
Taking the long view
There is of course similarity between multiresidential
and BTR projects in terms of building
design and construction approach and suppliers
should leverage their expertise from this
comparative market. However, one of the most
important considerations for building materials
providers looking to make inroads into the
sector is understanding its needs as a long-term
Unlike homes built for private sale, the
attraction for investors and developers in the BTR
market is that returns will be made over a much
longer period. So, what does this mean for the
construction supply chain?
The fi rst factor is speed of construction. The
faster a BTR project can be let, the faster investors
can begin recouping their initial expenditure.
This means that materials providers should focus
on improving their offer to accelerate project
delivery. At Etex Building Performance, we have
been working with the BRE (Building Research
Establishment) to assess the speed of installation
for different dry construction systems. Our work
has concentrated on multi-residential projects to
BUILDING PRODUCTS | JULY 8
speed up housing delivery but lessons from this
market can be applied to BTR.
Our research has shown that productivity
gains do not always need to come from big ticket
innovations. We found that preparation works,
such as moving materials around on-site and
measuring and cutting plasterboards, account for
up to one-third of wasted or non-value added time.
The second key consideration for driving longterm
return is maximising rental income. This
relies on keeping building operating costs to a
minimum and ensuring steady income from
happy residents. We’ll come on to the latter
in a moment.
A larger upfront investment in materials
that can support durability and reduce
maintenance needs could well pay
dividends in the long run for BTR
developers and investors. Providers need
to clearly articulate how they can help
achieve these aims and engage clients
early on in a project’s lifecycle when the
design approach can still be infl uenced.
Having robust testing data which
evidences long-term performance is crucial.
Customer comes fi rst
The fi nal but crucial part of
the BTR puzzle is offering
quality of life for
this is what will
to play in helping to create comfortable homes
for residents that are fi t-for-purpose. Key areas
of focus include thermal effi ciency and acoustic
performance, as well as providing peace of mind
on fi re safety. If all this can be achieved while
maximising useable fl oor space, then the potential
rental yields for BTR asset owners can be increased
The opportunities in BTR for our sector are
signifi cant. It’s up to materials providers to engage
the sector’s decision-makers and drive greater
understanding of the role and value our industry
can play in providing homes that meet the needs
of both residents and asset holders. BTR is here to
stay in the UK and we need to make sure we’re a
part of its future.
The opportunities in
BTR for our sector are
a vital role