Persimmon Adds 5000 More Plots in Late 2010 and Opening 70 New Sites 1st Half 2011

In a Trading Statement issued today 10th January 2011 by Persimmon Homes it advised that it had acquired over 5,000 plots worth of land in the later half of last year and is looking to open 70 new sites in the 1st half of this year.

The Statement read as follows…

In keeping with our current strategy we have continued to acquire new land through the remainder of the second half of the year on a selective basis and have acquired over 5,000 plots in the second half.  We have c. 59,000 plots owned and under control in our landbank at 31 December 2010, which represents c. 6.3 years supply…


We expect to open c. 70 new developments over the course of the next six months which will ensure our operating developments are maintained at current levels of c. 380 outlets.  It is too early in the New Year to assess the likely outcome of the forthcoming Spring sales season.  However, we believe that prospective purchasers who may have postponed visits to our developments due to the harsh weather conditions prior to the year end will return during the coming weeks…


We will give an update on our assessment of the housing market over the first weeks of 2011 when we announce our Results for the year ended 31 December 2010 on Tuesday 1 March 2011.


A full copy of the statement from Persimmon can be obtained from their website or the following link Statement Report

Onyx Construction Consultants are pleased to count Persimmon as one of its valued clients working with its Northampton and Witham offices and more than pleased that its doing well in the current market conditions.

If you are a house builder and need temporary assistance with your commercial needs or a subcontractor looking for an introduction to major house builders then contact Andrew Fella at Onyx Construction Consultants Ltd

Persimmon Extends its Pretax Profit & Slashes Debt

Housebuilder Persimmon said it has achieved a significant increase in underlying profit before tax in the year to end-December 2010, which will be at the top end of analysts’ expectations.

During 2010 Persimmon legally completed 9,384 (2009: 8,976) homes at an average selling price of c. £167,000 generating a turnover of c. £1.57 billion. This represents an increase on the 2009 performance of 4.5% on legal completions, a c. 6% improvement in average selling price of our homes, partly due to mix changes, and a c. 10% increase in turnover.

The company also achieved a further significant reduction in net borrowings to c. £51m (2009: £267.5m) during this period. This reduction in net borrowings is well ahead of original expectations and is a result of our continued strategy to generate cash whilst maximising margins.

As previously indicated underlying operating margin for the year will be c. 8%.

Persimmon said it had not experienced the usual level of upturn in sales in the autumn period with most parts of the country affected by severe weather conditions for several weeks. Whilst, unsurprisingly, this has reduced the level of sales activity during the period, pricing has remained stable and the margins on forward sales of c. £565m have been maintained at the levels achieved over recent months.

A full copy of the statement from Persimmon can be obtained from their website or the following link Statement Report

Onyx Construction Consultants are pleased to count Persimmon as one of its valued clients working with its Northampton and Witham offices and more than pleased that its doing well in the current market conditions.

If you are a house builder and need temporary assistance with your commercial needs or a subcontractor looking for an introduction to major house builders then contact Andrew Fella at Onyx Construction Consultants Ltd

Introduction Leads to Contract Award for Quinn Brickwork

Key Introduction Leads to Contract Award for Quinn Brickwork

Onyx Construction Consultants Limited are pleased to announce that another introduction made by them, between a valued contact at a Southern Area House Builder and one of their clients Quinn Brickwork Ltd. led to Quinn Brickwork securing a 19 unit site contract in Peterborough last month. In addition the House Builder having seen how Quinn Brickwork has performed with regards to programme and quality now wishes to negotiate the next phase of 24 units due to start shortly.

This introduction is only one of many made in the last 4 years between Onyx Construction Consultants specialist subcontractor clients and the many key placed contacts both business and personal that the directors of Onyx have at many of the House Builders, Contractors and Developers in the East Anglia and Northern Home Counties areas, leading to tenders being issued and contracts secured by our clients.

Onyx Consultants Ltd – Onyx Construction Marketing Service

In the past introductions have only been made with specialist subcontractors who are already one of our respected clients using the Onyx Estimating and Surveying services. This will shortly change with the introduction of Onyx Consultants Ltd our sister company and it’s Marketing Service.

As part of the Onyx Construction Marketing service introductions to our many business and personal contacts in the industry will be made available to those subcontractors who sign up for the service and meet the criteria needed.

More details of contract awards resulting from our introductions both recent and past together with referral and recommendation letters will be posted on the Onyx Construction Marketing blog and soon the Onyx Consultants Ltd website.

In the meantime if you feel that you would benefit from this service or know someone that will please contact us via email or contact Andrew Fella on 07798 640022.

Keys to being a Good / Great Estimator

I found this article recently in an American construction blog and thought it worth repeating here for those that follow this blog site who are from the analytical world of Estimating or provide that function on behalf of your company.

Some very valid items raised the ‘Review the Job’ point is excellent and very true. I would hope to write my own view on the subject in the near future but in the meantime read on…

So what does it take to be a good estimator? Being great with numbers?  Having a desire to color on drawings all day?  There are a few key traits I have found in my career that really separates the great estimators from the rest of them.  Let’s recall how I defined an estimator’s job as: finding the lowest cost solution to the project as would be acceptable to the client while identifying the potential pitfalls and risks of the project to others.  I am aware that this definition is probably a little short of some you definitions, since in some organizations the person Estimating is also doing sales, but those are two different jobs, so I would like to keep the separated.

Review the Job (Don’t just Start Counting)
If as an estimator we need to find the lowest cost solution, we really need to understand the project.  This is not a minor detail, as time is always our worst enemy.  Like a General going into battle, stand on the hill and survey the situation, don’t just going running down into battle.  The great estimators I have seen spend about 10% of the total time to estimate reviewing the project with no takeoff.  This allows them to understand the entire project and also allows them to get inside the Owner’s head as to why they are doing things.

Find an Acceptable Fast Take-Off Approximation
I am going to say that the most routine and easiest part of the estimator’s job is quantity survey or take-off.  This is not where the job is won and even with the most precise and time consuming methods out there, remember that this is only an estimate.  To believe that you can be that exact in a short period of time is being naive.  So you should come up with some methodology that will allow you to approximate as quickly as possible.  Always test this techniques with your peers and superiors to ensure that the science is sound.

Utilize an Estimating Software Platform that is Easy
Estimating software can be cumbersome quickly and can take a significant portion of your time.  In reality you actually only need it to do calculations for you and have a database of materials.  The rest of the functionality like database price updating, price break-outs, charts, etc. are just good to have.  Don’t get caught up in more functionality that then takes more time.

Analyze Your Bid
As estimators, their are typically other(s) that come in and review the final number and approve of what we have done, which is not always a good thing.  Don’t get me wrong I am not against people reviewing estimates, but too many times I see the estimator come in with no review done, since it will be done in the meeting.  A bid review by management is not a replacement for an estimator’s personal review.  This is the most important step!!!  Analyze what you are doing.  Is the number right, can we route something differently to save money, is there value engineering, what if I got that item quoted by subcontractor in lieu of self performing, I wonder if my client picked that up too, etc..  In the traditional bid review the discussion is more about did you get everything estimated and what margin should we go out at, where as your personal review can be about all of the other difficult parts to your job.  If you are not reviewing the job alone, you are setting yourself up for failure, it is that simple.

Remember, being an estimator is a difficult job which requires learning, processing, and pricing a job typically in a few days or weeks.  However, if there is a systematic process to your madness, there is no reason every job cannot be done by a Great Estimator.

If you require any assistance with your estimating, measurement take off needs or need the full services of an experienced Estimator her in the UK. Please contact Andrew Fella at Onyx Consultants Ltd. on 01473 743682

UK’s 20 Biggest House Builders by Turnover

The Top 20 house builders league table ranks the UK’s 20 biggest house builders by turnover and profit.

2010 Rank by turnover

2010 Rank by profit


Latest turnover (£m)

Previous turnover (£m)

Latest pre-tax profit (£m)

Previous pre-tax profit (£m)

Latest margin (%)

Previous margin (%)

2009 Rank by Turnover

2009 Rank by Profit



Taylor Wimpey























































Bloor *

































Bovis Homes











Stewart Milne











Crest Nicholson **











Galliford Try











McCarthy & Stone ***

































































































All companies ranked according to their most recently filed accounts.

* Bloor Holdings only publishes an operating profit (before exceptional items) for its house-building business.

** Crest Nicholson results cover period 23 January to 31 October 2009. The company was incorporated on 23 January 2009.

Bellway Homes – Interim Statement – Profits up 20%

Things are looking up at Bellway Homes including the number of sites opening and more importantly their profit. With their land buyers looking to buy new land on top of the 1260 plots bought already.

The full report:

Interim Management Statement

7 December 2010

Bellway is today issuing an Interim Management Statement (IMS) relating to the
period from 1 August to 30 November 2010.

As previously reported at the time of our annual results on 19 October,
reservations prior to the announcement of the Government’s Comprehensive
Spending Review (CSR) did not benefit from the usual degree of uplift normally
associated with the housing market in autumn. Since the CSR, however, home
reservations taken are ahead of the Board’s expectations, although still
slightly down compared with the same period last year. The decline in consumer
confidence appears to have levelled out and encouragingly, people are still
committing to purchase even at this time of year.

The Group currently has 3,614 sales (2009 – 3,486) secured for this financial
year and a further 400 (2009 – 598) for the next financial year. The average
selling price for all these sales is £167,600 which is 8.4% ahead compared to
this time last year, mainly as a result of the continuing change in product
mix. The Board anticipates that unit completions in the six months to 31
January 2011 will be similar to last year, albeit at a slightly higher average
selling price and that net profit before tax will rise by up to 20%.

Our divisions are gradually increasing investment in new site openings and it
is anticipated that the number of selling outlets will increase from 185 to
around 200 in early 2011. Having completed the acquisition of 1,260 plots in
the period and still maintaining a net cash position, the balance sheet remains
robust. The Group’s land teams are actively looking to secure further
opportunities at attractive margins and the divisions are concentrating on
bringing newly acquired sites to the market as quickly as possible to underpin
the operating margin going forward.

The outcome for the year to 31 July 2011 will be greatly dependent on the level
of consumer confidence during the 2011 spring selling season. This, in turn is
reliant on a reasonable supply of affordable mortgages combined with sensible
lending criteria.

The Board believes it is currently well positioned in what continues to be a
tough and testing market for UK housebuilding.

Berkeley Group Increases Land Bank

As Part of its Interim Statement  issued last Friday 3/11/2010 the Berkeley Group gave details of its increased land bank, including traditional sites (one assumes not classed as brown field) in St Albans, Oxford and Horsham. Other sites acquired as their report suggests are in Prime London locations.

An Extract of the Land Section of the Interim statement is given below:

Land Holdings

 At 31 October 2010, the Group (including joint ventures) controlled some 28,914 plots with an estimated gross margin of £2,301 million.  This compares with 28,099 plots and an estimated gross margin of £2,038 million at 30 April 2010. Of the total 28,914 plots, 28,647 plots (April 2010: 27,094) are owned and included on the balance sheet.  In addition, 226 plots (April 2010: 935) are contracted and 41 plots (April 2010: 70) have terms agreed. In excess of 95% of our holdings are on brown-field or recycled land.  

The increase in the land bank is a result of new land acquisitions in the period which has seen Berkeley agree 13 new sites, covering some 2,500 plots.  These new sites include prime London sites in Westminster and on Hammersmith Embankment, traditional sites in St Albans and Oxford and a site in Horsham for over 1,000 units acquired through strategic land in its long-term pipeline. All of the sites agreed are in excellent locations in London and the South East with strong underlying demand for quality new homes where Berkeley can create vibrant new communities and enhance value through its development expertise. 

In addition to the 28,914 plots in its land bank, and after accounting for the transfer of the site at Horsham acquired in the period to the land bank, Berkeley continues to have approximately 10,000 plots in its long-term pipeline, which it envisages delivering over the next ten years.  This includes the latter phases of Kidbrooke and Woodberry Down, strategic land and a number of sites being worked up within St Edward Homes, Berkeley’s joint venture with Prudential.  Of a more long-term nature; Berkeley hopes these sites will come through into the land bank but they currently have an uncertain outcome due to planning policy or vacant possession issues.

In terms of planning, Berkeley entered the year having achieved new or revised planning consents on 38 of its sites in the run up to the May Election.  It is therefore very pleasing to have had a number of further notable successes in the first half of this year.  These include sites in Belgravia, Westminster, Greenwich, Roehampton and Oxford, and revised consents for schemes in Battersea and Acton and the second phase of the student scheme being developed in Clapham for Imperial College.  Through the ongoing re-planning and re-assessment process, the land bank includes a net reduction of approximately 400 plots due to a combination of re-planning densities and increasing individual unit sizes and removing plots that are no longer commercially viable. 

St Edward Homes accounts for some 1,400 plots in the land bank across three sites.  These include: Stanmore Place, where the first phase is selling well and development on later phases progressing and 375 Kensington High Street, which has been successfully launched to the market and where demolition work has begun.  In addition, Berkeley continues to work with Prudential to identify further sites to which St Edward Homes can add value and three of these are in the long-term pipeline.

The Berkeley Group – Interim Results

Interim Results 2010/11

 Announcing the results of The Berkeley Group Holdings plc (“Berkeley” or “the Group”) – the urban regenerator and residential property developer – for the six months ended 31 October 2010, Chairman, Tony Pidgley said:

“This strong set of results represents an excellent performance from Berkeley at a time when the economy is looking to find traction for what is proving an elusive sustained recovery.  When coupled with Berkeley’s strong balance sheet, its unrivalled land bank and the underlying demand for the well located, quality homes developed by Berkeley in London and the South East, the Group remains well positioned to deliver enhanced shareholder value.  As always, it is only through the hard work and dedication of Berkeley’s people that results such as these are possible.”


·   Earnings per Share Up 19.2% to 33.5 pence (2009: 28.1 pence)
·   Profit before Tax Up 18.5% to £61.6 million (2009: £52.0 million)
·   Operating Margin 17.4% (2009: 17.4%)
·   Net Asset Value per Share Up 4.9% to 667.6 pence (April 2010: 636.7 pence) following acquisition of 3.8 million shares for £30.0 million
·   Net Cash £252.7 million (April 2010: £316.9 million)
·   Cash due on Forward Sales Up 21.9% to £790.1 million (April 2010: £648.1 million)
·   Land Bank 2,512 plots acquired and £263 million of future gross margin added in the period; an increase in value of 12.9% since 30 April 2010 


Commenting on the results, Managing Director, Rob Perrins, said:

 “Today’s results, which show an increase in both earnings and sales reservations approaching 20%, demonstrate the underlying resilience of the housing market in London and the South East over the last six months.  As a consequence, cash due on forward sales has increased by 21.9% over the period, providing forward visibility in a period which has seen Berkeley increase the number of sites from which it is selling.

Since the start of the year, Berkeley has acquired some 2,500 plots, including prime London sites in Westminster and on Hammersmith Embankment, both completing in the second half, and a site for 1,000 new homes in Horsham. Berkeley’s strategy is based on identifying opportunities to acquire land in the right locations to which we can add value and these results highlight growth of 12.9% in the value of land bank future gross margin, from £2,038 million to £2,301 million, in the six months.

 Overall, this strong performance provides the Board with confidence that Berkeley can outperform management’s original expectations for the current year and is well placed for the following year.

Finally, I am delighted that Berkeley’s Vision 2020 strategy, launched in June, has so quickly become part of the Group’s culture and continues to place Berkeley at the forefront of the industry.  For the fourth consecutive year Berkeley has ranked first in the NextGeneration Sustainability benchmark. In addition, St Edward’s development at Stanmore has received a coveted Building for Life award.  It is only by putting the customer and the communities we create at the heart of every decision that the challenges faced by the industry can be addressed.”


 Berkeley is pleased to announce a pre-tax profit of £61.6 million for the six months ended 31 October 2010.  This is an increase of 18.5% on the £52.0 million achieved in the same period last year, driven principally by an increase in revenue of 15.9% from £290.1 million to £336.2 million.  Operating margin of 17.4% is at a similar level to the first half of last year, with net finance income of £1.8 million (2009: £3.0 million) and joint ventures contributing £1.2 million of profit (2009: £1.6 million loss).  Basic earnings per share for the six months are 33.5 pence compared to 28.1 pence for the equivalent period last year; an increase of 19.2%.


The housing market in London and the South East is characterised by an imbalance of demand for new homes in excess of supply.  The sites recently acquired by Berkeley are in excellent locations where this imbalance has traditionally been most acute.  For the time being therefore, and in the absence of any external shocks to the economy, Berkeley believes the current market in terms of prices and transaction levels should remain stable.  

Longer term, Berkeley’s outlook remains closely aligned to the success of London in attracting investment, employment and of course, retaining its status as the premier World City.  Outside London, which is more closely aligned with the UK domestic economy, the lack of liquidity and the absence of the feel-good factor remain constraints to an increase in transaction volumes on each site.

 With these challenging market conditions presenting opportunities for those with access to capital, Berkeley will enter 2011 in a strong position and with an increased level of confidence to deliver the new homes and places in which our customers aspire to live.

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