The UK Government recently announced its industrial strategy, outlining its vision for the future including for the provision of housing, as there is a worsening deficit between housing demand and supply. As one of the leading BIM companies in the UK, we were interested to see that one of the suggestions that was made was to focus on modular construction.
What is Modular Construction?
Modular construction has been defined by the Modular Building Institute as: ‘a process in which a building is constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as conventionally build facilities – but in about half the time’. The use of modular construction techniques is growing within the UK, but we are still lagging behind the rest of the world somewhat. In Japan, for example, about 16% of their residential buildings involve offsite construction, while in Sweden this figure rises to 40%.
What are the benefits of Modular Construction?
The UK government are pretty keen on using modular construction to help solve the housing crisis, partly due to the fact that they offer both considerable cost and time savings. The manufacturing process also ensures that strict quality control standards have to be adhered to, which not only creates safer working conditions for those in the construction industry but also helps towards achieving environmental standards as well. It also helps to soothe relationships between construction workers and the local community, as there will be less building time required on site meaning less disruption, noise and waste which always makes neighbours happier.
Why is the uptake so slow in the UK?
One thing that may be affecting the use of modular housing in the UK is that there are significant upfront costs involved, and so many housebuilders are understandably erring on the side of caution. There are also challenges involved with modular housing if the site you are building on is in a dense urban location. On sites like this where it isn’t possible to have an onsite factory, then you will have to deal with the challenge of transporting the finished article to the site, which means dealing with road closures potentially and definitely traffic congestion.
How can objections be overcome?
The vast amount of benefits that modular construction offers to the building industry inevitably goes some way to helping people to overcome their resistance to it. If the Government can also provide investment in the necessary infrastructure as well as offering incentives, this will surely help to speed up productivity.
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