Transcript: Newstalk Radio Interview with FastHouse
Breakfast Business with Vincent Wall – Newstalk 106-108 FM (Ireland)
Date: 28 November 2018 @ 06:30
VW – FastHouse, the Derry-based company owned by entrepreneur Kevin Lagan, yesterday announced the successful completion of nearly 470 holiday lodges for the Center Parcs leisure venue in Co Longford in under 9 months. The company is now targeting its rapid offsite construction processes at the wider housing market in the Republic. We’re joined now by FastHouse (Spokesperson), Stephen Bell.
VW – Stephen, these are holiday lodges that you completed in Center Parcs in rapid time – you are using that rapid offsite construction process to target the permanent housing market here?
SB – Yes, Vincent, whilst Center Parcs is mainly a lodge-based scheme, they are not small lodges – they range in size from 850 sq ft up to a 2,000 sq ft. So, in terms of the form of construction, they are very akin to the traditional housing market. It’s a system that, whilst we’ve used it across Center Parcs for this specific project, it can be rolled out across the general housing market.
VW – What exactly do you do at your Limavady Plant?
SB – Up in Limavady, we’re in a 200,000 sq ft factory. We’re an offsite manufacturer of timber frame houses – so it’s a panelised system. The wall panels come out fully insulated; they can come out with their windows already installed and, in certain circumstances, with the services already installed – so it takes a lot of the elements offsite and allows for fast erection when we arrive on a construction site.
VW – Based on your production processes for the Center Parcs lodges, Stephen, how many of these can you put together in a day?
SB – The factory has a weekly production capacity for an average sized house, 1,100 / 1,200 sq ft, of about 20 houses per week at the moment. We have just invested in a further production line, which will be installed mid-2019, which will take the capacity for the factory up above 1,500 units a year.
VW – Now we all know we have a new housing supply crisis here in the Republic – you’re targeting that market now – are you actually in discussions with builders, with developers down here?
SB – Sorting the housing crisis out, whether it’s in the Republic of Ireland, whether it’s in the UK, there has to be a partnership approach and we can be one element of that – so we’re talking to a lot of Local Authorities, a lot of contractors, a lot of house builders. I think Center Parcs is a stellar example of what actually can be achieved in respect of rapid housing delivery. Rapid housing delivery requires more innovative thinking and different methods – that comes from planning through Local Authorities and it also requires a release of funding. The private sector can’t deliver this all on its own. The Local Authorities have to get active and have to start releasing some of their own sites and funding their own sites – and if they can do that, this example shows that you can deliver sites of 30-40 houses on a monthly basis.
VW – Are you close to coming to agreement with any Local Authorities or Developers down here?
SB – Without breaking too many confidences, we are happy with the position we are at and we are progressing well, Vincent. I would hope that, over the course of the next few months, there’s announcements to be made on that front.
VW – The process is obviously much quicker because you can construct so much offsite in Limavady, Stephen, but will it also make houses cheaper – will it bring the overall price of a house down in terms of how much it costs to build it?
SB – Not necessarily – the price point is really price parity to traditional construction. Where the savings can be delivered, Vincent, obviously, the more the houses are standardised, the more savings there are in manufacturing – so you can get savings in that front. And, obviously, by reducing the programme, you can reduce prelims and overheads. There’s cost savings to be had there but the cost is roughly on a par with traditional construction.
VW – We’ll follow your progress with interest, Stephen – it sounds like a way of dealing with the situation down here. Thanks for joining us this morning and for telling us about it.
Center Parcs Ireland is scheduled to open in Summer 2019 . For more information or to book your break at Center Parcs visit: