Posted 17 April 2016 - 08:29 AM
Anyone can read the forum, without needing to join, and at least a couple of people at MBC (and a few other build companies, too) read this place. Few post, because to do so would mean them spending a lot of time answering questions here, when they'd rather be building houses. I know who two of the people that read this forum are, and know one who has probably joined but not posted, as I occasionally get a call about something here if it's not accurate!
As you've gathered from reading here they are generally held in pretty high regard by those here who have used them, and at a guess I'd say there much be getting on towards a dozen members here that have had houses built by them, so far none with any major issues. The main advantage in what they offer, to self-builders, is that they provide a neat package, with the insulated foundations, sealed and weathertight insulated frame and roof, something very few other companies do. We felt that having the same company contractually responsible for the foundation system and the house removed a lot of risk and also reduced a lot of partially hidden cost from other quotes.
I drew up a spreadsheet to try and compare quotes in the end, because it was very hard to compare something like the near-all inclusive MBC quote with several other quotes that were only for the frame, or only for the foundation system, or which didn't include the cost of crane or lifting gear hire, or many other things. All told, we found that comparing quotes from different companies was extremely hard, and more than a little stressful. We settled on MBC really because we (well, me, really) didn't want to take the risk of the foundation system not matching the frame. There's not a lot of tolerance in a well-built timber frame, especially one built off-site to a high degree of accuracy*** and had we used one company for the foundation system and another for the frame I could foresee there being a lot of stress in trying to both fix the problem and establish who was at fault.
*** The high accuracy of a factory built frame given significant, and unforeseen by me, cost savings during second fix. We found we used around 10% less plasterboard and floor coverings than estimated, because the house is dead square and there are lower cutting losses. Because the frame is built with all the timbers on exactly 400mm centres it also speeds up the fixing of plasterboard, as 2400 x 1200 sheets always have joints on stub centres. Our guys reckon that that saved 1/2 day of labour, for two people. We also saved a bit of first fix (although not as much, as I did most of it) because their open Posijoist and 45mm service void system made it very quick and easy to fit the pipework, ducting and electrical cables.