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  • Writer's pictureBarry James

Modern Methods of Construction - an Accelerating Construction Trend

“For decades, this country has not built enough homes, which has led to rising housing costs. The Government has set an ambitious target to build 300,000 homes annually by the mid-2020s but constraints such as the shortage of skilled workers mean it cannot meet that target using traditional building methods alone. A significant proportion of homes must be built using modern methods of construction (MMC) if we are to meet the target to deliver 300,000 homes annually.“ we read in a “Modern Methods of Construction” report, released by the House of Commons in June 2019.

The NHBC Foundation describes MMC as a “term embracing a range of offsite manufacturing and onsite techniques that provide alternatives to traditional house building. MMC ranges from whole homes being constructed from factory-built volumetric modules, through to the use of innovative techniques for laying concrete blockwork onsite.” The production of modular homes involves creating three-dimensional units off-site and assembling them on-site.

MMC offers significant benefits to the developer, such as:

  • increased speed of delivery,

  • improved quality of the built; and

  • reduced labour costs

A recent survey carried out by NHBC of developers which have already implemented modular construction into their developments, show as high as a 30% improvement in the speed of construction with circa 33% reduction in costs.

Another huge advantage of MMC are a buildings increased sustainability levels which are extremely attractive from a decarbonisation point of view. Government and local authorities are pushing for improving energy efficiency and lowering environmental impact whilst reducing wastage in materials, which fundamentally leans towards manufacture-based house building. Developers have already begun reaching out for “greener” solutions and sophisticated investors have finally started to see long term benefits from sustainable living.

Is there a benefit to owner occupiers, renters, and investors?

Well, another positive outcome of implementing modular building is the affordability of the end product. Reduction in construction and labour costs plus faster delivery translates into more affordable house prices. This could in return, open up a whole new level of the first time buyers property market.

But not everyone agrees. Traditional construction supporters criticise MMC for putting an enormous strain on the supply chain, possibility of further delays and limited manufacturing of the modules with additional training required for this methodology to be implemented efficiently.

So, where is this heading?

Whilst traditional construction still maintains a vast majority in residential development, with a whopping 90% across the UK, there is a reported increase in MMC which is anticipated to reach c.20% in the next 10 years, according to Savills. Some large developers who see a promising future in MMC have already committed to developing their own manufacturing facilities.

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