November 7, 2023
The Kempen construction company Skilpod makes residential modules in its factory in Geel that are stacked on site like Lego blocks to form houses or apartment complexes. ‘After a few weeks, a home is ready to move in.’ To keep up with demand, Skilpod is raising 11 million euros of fresh capital.
Skilpod, the modular construction company from Geel, now has plans for a new factory for the production of residential modules for private individuals and the social housing sector. In the factory hall, the size of four football fields, the company will be able to assemble around 600 homes or apartments annually, four times more than on the current site. ‘The ambition is to do that again times ten within two to three years. We have to step up our game. It’s happening very quickly,” says Filip Timmermans, the founder and CEO of Skilpod. The number of employees will eventually triple to around 250 employees.
- Skilpod raises 11 million euros of fresh capital, of which 8 million euros from the Prosperity Fund.
- The construction company is planning a new factory for the production of residential modules for private individuals and the social housing sector. It will produce 600 homes and apartments annually.
- It employs 85 people, but that number will triple with the growth plans.
- Skilpod is heading for a turnover of 20 million euros this year, and will make a profit again after a loss year.
Skilpod was a pioneer in the construction industry with its concept ten years ago. ‘We make modular timber frame homes, with all the trimmings. We install bathroom and kitchen, install all connections, electricity, home automation, sanitary pipes, and so on. We do everything in the factory. We then transport the residential modules to the site by truck. Two trips for a small family home of 80 square meters, four trips for the largest of 160 square meters. There they are placed next to or on top of each other. And furthermore: the finishing of the roof, an extra layer of paint and the connection to the utility lines,” Timmermans explains.
‘Four to five weeks from start to finish and the house is ready to move into. That is impossible with the classical way of building. At that time there is normally only a shell structure left.’
“As a customer you cannot change anything, no door, no wall, nothing,” says Timmermans. Through this standardization, the use of machines and the optimization of labor, Skilpod keeps costs under control. ‘Our people don’t have to travel to the site in trucks every day. All this makes our houses 10 percent cheaper than normal.’
The popularity of the Skilpod homes has increased over the years, and Timmermans even sees an acceleration. To keep up with demand, Skilpod is raising 11 million euros of fresh capital. The Flemish Welfare Fund is providing 8 million euros. The remaining 3 million comes from the existing shareholders: the two founders, the construction company Van Roey and U2P, the investment vehicle of the entrepreneur Ismaël Ben-Al-Lal.
Skilpod sells its homes to private individuals, but Timmermans relies heavily on government contracts for the construction of social housing for growth. ‘An incredible amount of construction needs to be done. In the Netherlands we are talking about tens of thousands of additional social housing units per year, and in Flanders as well. If we build all that in the traditional way, we will never get there. That’s much too slow.’ Skilpod has secured a large order in the Netherlands, and Timmermans expects the same in Flanders soon.
An incredible amount of social housing needs to be built in the Netherlands and Flanders. We will never get there with the classical way of building. That’s much too slow.
Schools and hotels
The price of the houses – ground floor or one floor – varies between 185,000 and 314,000 euros. Skilpod is now also expanding its range with apartments and studios that can be built up to five floors high. “We are now carrying out the first projects in our factories,” says Timmermans. ‘We are also looking further at other markets such as schools and hotels.’
While the construction market is going through a major dip this year due to higher interest rates and economic uncertainty, Skilpod continues its momentum. The founder expects significant growth in turnover to 20 million euros this year. “And we will make a profit. We have always done that – with the exception of one year. We started small and took everything step by step.’