The construction industry is very much in the national media spotlight right now, with housebuilding high on the agenda. The recent announcement too that Carillion has lost its fight for survival and has gone into compulsory liquidation is shining an even greater spotlight on the construction industry as a whole.
High on the political agenda also, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has recently launched Homes England, a new national housing agency, as one of the key steps towards helping to deliver the average of 300,000 homes a year target set by the government by the mid-2020s.
How to deliver 300,000 homes a year
The Telegraph reported in November 2017 that “In the 2016/17 financial year, 217,350 new homes were completed, the first time the government’s self-imposed threshold has been met since before the financial crisis. This is an increase of 15pc on last year, and up 74pc on four years ago.”
Whilst these numbers are very positive, how does the industry accelerate the delivery of much needed good quality homes and meet the 300,000 a year target? Here at Rund, we believe modular construction is part of the solution and must be allowed to play its part.
Modular construction. Not the new kid on the block.
Modular construction isn’t new, or a new fad. It has pedigree, history and the numbers to back claims that it can support delivering increased numbers of homes. You only need to consider the likes of Berkeley Group, who have recently submitted a planning application to build a major new prefabrication plant in Kent, and Legal & General, who revealed its first modular housing prototype outside its Selby-based 550,000 sq ft factory in July 2017 to know that modular construction has evolved. Unlike its early pre-fab predecessor, precision engineered factory manufactured houses are a serious contender to facilitate increase supply.
The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model titled ‘Modernise or Die’, made 10 recommendations, including Recommendation 8: Government should act to provide an ‘initiation’ stimulus to innovation in the housing sector by promoting the use of pre-manufactured solutions through policy measures. This should be prioritised either through the conditional incentivisation of institutional development and investment in the private rented sector; the promotion of more pre-manufactured social housebuilding through Registered Providers; direct commissioning of pre-manufactured housing; or a combination of any of the above. It should also consider planning breaks for pre-manufactured approaches.
With an ever-growing need for new quality housing, the industry needs to fully realise the benefits that innovation can bring. For example, we are working with Apex Airspace Developments, who specialise in advanced quality offsite modular construction. Part of Apex Housing Group, Apex Airspace Development converts unused ‘airspace’ above residential, commercial and public building rooftops into new homes – helping address London’s housing shortage.
We are working with clients to effectively plan, design and deliver schemes using modular construction and to realise the benefits of:
- building more homes with the same on-site labour
- providing cost-effective new homes
- reducing on-site construction time
- delivering energy efficient buildings
- enhanced health, safety and welfare
Modular construction. A vital role
The search for best value in housebuilding should never simply be a question of finding the lowest cost. It is vital for all parties in the delivery of new homes to maintain and enhance quality, including those aspects of quality that affect durability, lifetime running costs and overall performance. Modular construction can play a vital role in assisting the housing building industry to build increased numbers of good quality homes more quickly and efficiently.