Modular manufacturers move on British housebuilding
Offsite manufacturers are making bold steps to infiltrate the UK housebuilding sector as the industry struggles to make efficiencies in the wake of government spending cuts, reports Construction News on its website.
Factory-based suppliers are forming consortia with new entrants and traditional architects and developers in a bid to target future housing work and retrofits requiring fast and cheap construction methods.
National House-Building Council group head of standards and technical Graham Perrior said: ‘We are seeing modular offsite manufacturers coming to us with requests to use their systems…The main advantage is speed, there are also possible cost advantages. When the housing market recovers there will probably be a greater share of the work going to offsite manufacturers.’
The government-commissioned schools Capital Review team is expected to recommend the heavy use of offsite construction in a replacement programme for the scrapped Building Schools for the Future. And the technology is likely play a key role in chief construction adviser Paul Morrell’s report on meeting carbon commitment targets, due out this week.
Richard Ogden, chairman of trade body Build Offsite, claims off-site manufacture is already shaping the new-look housebuilding industry: ‘New people are coming into the market inspired by the opportunities in housing. These are people we would not consider regular housebuilders that are preparing to storm the market.’
Offsite manufacturer Central Site Accommodation has bought a second factory to cater to the social housing market. Its director Mike Walsh said: ‘We have our own architects and carry out design-and-build contracts. We are getting more and more success against main contractors. Our buildings have the same lifespan and take a fraction of the time and cost.’
Traditional contractors are also embracing the technology. Mace is using modular construction and lightweight steel frames to meet increasing demand in the residential sector, particularly for student housing, reports CN in a related story.
The contractor has already delivered roughly 3,000 student residential units across four sites, largely for Brunel University, and has another 774 are under construction, including 435 in Wembley.
‘The biggest advantage is the time saving,’ said Simon Underwood, director of residential at Mace. ‘On the Wembley scheme it’s about 12-16 weeks quicker [than traditional methods].’ And Mace is now targeting the social housing sector, he added: ‘We have just agreed terms to get to site towards the end of the year on our first social housing job at Barking Riverside, with 64 homes.’