A New Phase Of Development

8th July, 2021

In March this year, Homes England published its report outlining the details of its study and final research themes for its six-year, 1,800 home MMC Research Commission.

As part of the Government’s objective to improve construction productivity and encourage the uptake of offsite manufacture in housing delivery, the next phase of this research project will see data collected across eight of Homes England’s development sites using offsite methods.

Research and development partners Atkins and Faithful+Gould have so far completed a large body of work to shape the data and collection methodology and start data collection, as well as engagement with industry. Monitoring the construction of around 1,800 homes across the country over several years, the study will test the performance of different types of MMC to provide long-term, in-depth and verifiable data so that informed decisions about emerging construction technologies can be made.

Offsite and modular building techniques have the potential to be significantly more productive than traditional building methods, allowing homes to be built more quickly, addressing labour and skills shortages and improving the quality, consistency and energy efficiency of newly built homes.

Robert Stone, Technical Director at Homes England, said: “We are committed to providing the industry with the body of evidence it is asking for in order to drive a greater understanding of modern house building technologies and increase the uptake of MMC. Now more than ever, we recognise that more needs to be done to share learning and build confidence in MMC. This large-scale, long-term and in-depth project will provide the sector with the valuable evidence it needs to make informed decisions about MMC and deliver better homes faster.”

The research will explore 16 themes, including – site description and context, pace and cost of build, labour productivity, planning issues, pre-manufactured value, safety performance, waste levels, construction logistics, quality, energy efficiency, sales performance, lifecycle, economic rationale, social value and wellbeing. It will also seek to learn lessons about how these technologies will be deployed and give confidence to the industry to drive a greater uptake of offsite technologies.

Working with BRE and University College London (UCL), Atkins and Faithful+Gould will collect and monitor data from the developers during the six-year programme and produce annual updates on the research findings, before a final report is published at the end of the build programme. BRE will help define the new metrics needed and compare existing data, whilst UCL will provide construction ‘economics expertise’ to ensure the final statistics are watertight. “With the impacts of COVID-19 and the realisation of our exit from the EU, the need to protect and improve productivity and grow UK revenue is great,” said Terrence Stocks, UK Head of Public Sector at Faithful+Gould. “Coupled with the release of the UK Government’s Construction Playbook, the importance of this research project has grown. The team and the developer organisations, along with their contractors, are now ready to move forward with increased pace, and the next year will see us gathering and analysing data to support a study that will hopefully drive an accelerated uptake of MMC in the residential sector.”

Critically, the research is being carried out on homes on live building sites and when the team reports for the final time will have solid data to offer the market – something that has hamstrung offsite manufacture’s in its quest to prove its benefits. The sites under review will use a variety of offsite technologies ranging from volumetric modular to timber frame and the use of bathroom pods.

To read full article and for more news, check out the latest Offsite Magazine

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