Long History of MMC
Alternative forms or modern methods of construction (MMC) have a long history in the UK. Post-war a variety of innovative house-building systems have been used extensively. NHBC Foundation’s 2015 industry survey aimed to establish current attitudes to MMC amongst larger house builders and housing associations.
200,000 immediate Post-War homes
Prime Ministers and cross-party committees examined solutions. Government programmes were rolled out to build ‘new technology’ homes – the 1944 EFM (emergency factory made) programme delivered 153,000 ‘temporary’ prefabricated homes plus almost 450,000 ‘permanent’ non-traditional homes.
Latham (1994) & Egan (1998) “Rethinking Construction”
These reports considered the need to increase off-site construction in the housing sector and drew on experiences of other industries, like manufacturing. They sought to identify how to improve efficiency, reduce waste and make the industry more responsive to customer needs. Today we still see an industry that has largely continued to use masonry cavity wall construction for low-rise residential new build. But the success of off-site manufactured homes seen in other parts of the world, such as Scandinavia and Japan, has not generally been replicated in volume in the UK.
Today’s housing market pressures
- High customer demand with shortfalls in supply
- shortages of skilled labour and materials
- a drive for construction speed
- achieving high quality and energy performance
- the elimination of waste
- extent to which MMC is embraced or considered
- factors which are driving their interest
- reasons for using or rejecting MMC
- benefits and drawbacks experienced in use
- extent MMC will help increase build volumes to meet demand
- expectations for future use of MMC
- factors which could lead to an increase in use of MMC
Summary of 10 Key findings
1. In last 3 years, 98% of large & medium-sized house builders & HA’s have used/considered MMC
2. Sub-assemblies & components most widely used, e.g. door sets, timber-beams, prefabricated Chimneys, prefabricated dormers.
3. Panelised systems, e.g. Timber Frame is 2nd most popular form of MMC (42% of respondent in 2015) NHBC shows 15% of UK housing output. (Scotland 75% - not regarded as standard, MMC)
4. Only limited use of volumetric construction and pods Use concentrated in London & SE apartments
5. Most firms consider themselves ‘late adopters’ or ‘followers’ watching success of others first. Only 10% of house builders see themselves as ‘market leaders’, leading innovation.
6. One of the key MMC drivers is ability to build more quickly & get weathertight envelope
7. MMC will play role in improving quality of construction & overcoming current skill shortages
8. Evidence of MMC leading to reduced costs + improved profitability 44% of HB’s + 27% of HA’s see reduced preliminary costs, better cash flow, faster sales revenues.
9. Most expect MMC to grow or remain static over next 3 years; Over half expect use of panelised systems to increase. Drivers to increased use include skill shortages, faster build, increased output, better build quality.
10. Supply chain risks exist for greater use of pods and volumetric Concerns include size, quality and capacity of such suppliers + ability to sustain high volume output. Other issues include a need to build-in the ability to provide bespoke designs and interiors and overcome the constraints of standardisation, the need for an early design freeze and transport logistics
An ‘Integrated’ Development Approach Needed
Forewarned is forearmed, so this report may herald a shift to suburban projects. These may be assembly and redevelopment of whole areas, or they may be infill and the addition of extra floors. Whatever the case, adopting a flexible, approach to unit design, delivery and assembly will pay dividends. Top this end a partnership approach through which you can also secure the benefits of speed, accuracy and the quality delivered by workers that enjoy working in enriched job environments, may be favorite. And of course using the most advanced forms of Low Energy building will certainly help your marketing. Call or e-mail us for a no-obligation chat today. You’ll be glad you did.