A Derbyshire-based construction firm is helping to build a housing revolution after seeing a dramatic growth following the Covid lockdowns – and is putting technology at the forefront of its operations.
Pride Park-based Hodgkinson Builders, is set to record a £20m turnover this year, and double the number of homes it built last year. Many are based in the Midlands and all of them are for housing associations.
Key to the firm’s resilience is the successful introduction of flexible working for staff during the pandemic. Remote working has seen an increase too among office and backroom staff and much of this will stay.
Managing director Ian Hodgkinson said that he was delighted the firm had managed to weather the storm during the pandemic months – with 330 homes currently being developed so far this year.
He said: “Our staff have been heroes and we have come out of the pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever before. We are pleased to be doubling the number of homes we build this year compared to 2020.
“It’s been a big year so far and it has been a lot of hard work, but we have been able to strengthen Hodgkinson Builders, take stock and reinvest with a different outlook.
Robert Hodgkinson, Operations director at the firm said: “The tech we use for remote working has changed the business for the office team forever. We have new ways of working flexibly – and we are still able to put roofs over people’s heads.”
One of the developments responsible for the success is a 34-house development in Spanker Lane, Heage. This is made up of 16 two-bed, 16 three-bed and two four-bed homes. Building started in January, and it should be finished in the summer of 2022.
Robert said that their 150-strong team has overcome many obstacles. He said: “We’re not alone in the constraints we have had to deal with relating to delays in getting planning permission.
“It has been hard work getting planning over the line but finally it has all come to fruition and that’s why we are building 330 homes this year.
“We’ve had lots of competition regarding material supply too, but managed the situation with a reliance on our regular and trusted supply chain. This has paid dividends and it’s all business as usual now.”
Part of the company’s portfolio is the 30-home development at Ilkeston where Hodgkinson Builders is reusing some of the stonework and signage from the Poplar pub to help preserve the site’s unique place in the town’s heritage.
The pandemic has allowed the firm to cement their position with housing association clients, helped by a social housing report compiled in conjunction with the University of Derby.
In it, the firm says that social housing could be key to the UK building its way out of the pandemic.
The Annual Social Housing Report paints a warts-and-all picture of the current state of the construction industry, including the deep-seated problems caused by skills shortages and poor construction methods.
But its main focus is to highlight the crisis surrounding a lack of social housing and the need for people and organisations to change negative attitudes towards the concept of social housing.
Ian and the team are urging businesses and Governments to use smarter, more sustainable methods to build much-needed social housing quickly. The report was gratefully received by housing associations and stakeholders.
Ian continued: “Moving forward through 2021, we are responding to the increase in the demand for homes. It’s currently running at 16 people showing interest in every house on the market.
“We are focused over the next 12 months on our apprenticeships scheme and see training as a crucial solution to the skills shortage.”