Build-to-rent (BTR) is coming of age, attracting growing investment and government support. Nicola Chapman at Etex Building Performance considers why dry construction is perfectly poised to meet the needs of BTR projects and the opportunities to support this burgeoning sector.

BTR is now firmly established on the UK residential map, with more than £2bn of capital investment in 2017, according to CBRE data. Government support for BTR is growing and the revised National Planning Policy Framework has outlined a greater, more critical role for BTR as a solution to the housing crisis.

There is similarity between multi-residential and BTR projects in terms of building design and construction approach, and drylining contractors and materials providers should leverage their expertise from this comparative market. The real difference comes in developers’ and investors’ attitudes to initial construction costs – this is where dry construction needs to better champion its cause.

As long-term asset holders, maximising return for BTR investors is king. This relies on minimising building operating costs and ensuring steady income from happy residents by providing homes that meet their needs. A larger upfront investment that can support these aims could well pay dividends in the long-run.

One of the more obvious elements is the building fabric. Investing in more durable materials for walls and partitions, like performance plasterboard, can bring efficiencies in both maintenance and energy costs. Dry construction plays a vital role in residents’ quality of life by providing a high-quality finish, enhanced acoustic performance and peace of mind on fire safety. If all this can be achieved while maximising useable floorspace, then potential yields can be increased still further by boosting rental area – and, of course, the sooner a building is completed, the quicker it can begin generating income, so demonstrating our sector’s work to drive jobsite productivity is key.

The opportunities for dry construction in BTR are significant. It’s up to drylining contractors and materials providers to engage the sector’s decision-makers and drive greater understanding of the role and value our industry can play in providing safe, comfortable homes that meet the needs of residents and asset holders. BTR is here to stay in the UK – we need to make sure we’re a part of its future.

Nicola Chapman
Business development director Etex Building Performance