Modular offsite construction methods hold the potential to solve the UK’s crippling housing shortage, according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME).
The report, entitled The UK House Building: Manufacturing Affordable Quality Homes is urging the Government to provide greater incentives for the offsite construction of homes.
Lead Author of the report and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Dr Tim Fox said: “The UK is in the middle of an acute housing crisis. Current annual construction levels are typically less than half of the estimated 250,000 new homes this country needs built every year through to at least the 2030s. The new Government needs to demonstrate real ambition, leadership and innovation, not make small piecemeal changes, if it is going to solve the UK’s housing crisis. Overhauling the way the UK constructs homes could be the quickest and most effective way of doing this.”
Offsite construction technologies have advanced greatly in recent years and can offer shorter build times, better quality, better energy efficiency, less waste, and lower costs for buyers. While timeframes are project dependent, most estimates are that offsite-built homes can be produced in about half the time of traditional construction. Developers also cite the reduced requirement for scarce skilled labour, fewer construction accidents and more consistent quality of build compared to traditional construction.
Tom Bloxham, Chief Executive of Urban Splash, believes that now is the time for offsite construction to hit the mainstream, since production line precision means his homes are both “extraordinarily” airtight which improves their energy efficiency, and highly customisable. With his 43-home scheme in New Islington, Manchester, he is now aiming to ramp up production to several thousand a year. “We’ve shown there’s a demand for it, we’ve shown the quality is really good, and now it’s building the capacity,” Tom added.
The benefits of modular construction will be discussed in greater detail by James Walsh, Lead Designer at Anyo Architects at Explore Offsite Housing. James will be speaking about ‘Modular Design: How to use modular techniques to solve the housing shortage.’ The speaker line-up will also include: Brian Ham, Executive Director of Development at Home Group; Jenny Coombs, Project Director for Local Partnerships ; Paul Williamson Managing Director for Modular Construction, Swan Housing; Peter Andrew, Deputy Chairman of Home Builders Federation; Stephen Haigh , Chief Executive of Live Verde; Sir Edward Lister, Chair of Homes England; and Bjorn Conway, Chief Executive Officer of Ilke Homes.