Knowledge and resource gaps ‘must be addressed’ for off-site construction to go mainstream

The Athletes Village was a successful example of off-site construction
The Athletes Village was a successful example of off-site construction

Many new homes of the future could be built in factories and delivered to site ready to be assembled if clarity and more detailed understanding on total costings confirm that the approach is competitive, a new report has concluded.

The new research from Homes for Scotland was undertaken for the Scottish Government following its challenge to industry to “transform” the way new homes are built as a means to further increase sustainability, boost the rate of supply and create export opportunities to support the drive towards a low carbon economy.

The trade body engaged its members, who together deliver 95 per cent of new homes built for sale, in order to assess industry awareness, appetite and readiness surrounding alternative construction methods such as offsite manufactured systems.

With improved quality, sustainability and speed of construction identified as drivers for an increase in the use of offsite construction, the report found no resistance to this in principle from home builders.  However, the strong perception that offsite construction is more expensive was found to be the biggest barrier. Concerns were also expressed in relation to control over programming and the capacity of the supply chain to sharply increase output.

The report proposes 11 recommendations that could help address these issues, including how to overcome the knowledge and resource gaps that exists in relation to costing and R&D.

Homes for Scotland chief executive, Philip Hogg, said: “With the industry’s capacity to increase production in the wake of the economic downturn currently being hampered by shortages in both skills and traditional building materials, this report is very timely and provides a useful baseline from which to explore how the increased use of offsite construction could help overcome these challenges.

“However, any such ‘evolution’ must be demand-led and supported by a proven business case that also provides the flexibility the private sector require in delivering products to their customers.”

Minister for housing and welfare, Margaret Burgess, said: “We are committed to encouraging companies to utilise offsite modern methods of construction due to the number of potential benefits including economic and export opportunities. That is why we commissioned Homes for Scotland to carry out this research and engage with industry to determine their level of interest in adopting these methods.

“We will work with the housing industry in Scotland to encourage them to look at these opportunities. This report from Homes for Scotland showing private house builders’ perceptions represents an important step in mainstreaming these techniques.”

The “Research into Mainstreaming Offsite Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in House Building” report can be accessed HERE.