Paul Lang, Chief Executive of Caledonian Modular assesses how the latest advances in modular construction have the potential to solve the UK’s affordable housing shortage.
The UK’s population and the trend for smaller households is rising, both of which mean demand for housing will also continue to rise. In addition, analysis conducted as part of a two year investigation by the Resolution Foundation has found that millennials are struggling to get onto the property ladder. As a result they are being forced into shared housing or expensive rented properties that leave them with little chance of saving for a home.
Many would expect this issue to be confined to larger cities such as London and Birmingham, however ownership among 25- to 34-yearolds has plummeted throughout the country. Ownership has fallen from 53% in 1984 to 26% in 2017 in Greater Manchester and from 54% to 25% in South Yorkshire. In the West Midlands it has dropped from 45% to 20%, from 50% to 28% in Wales and from 55% to 27% in the South-East. In outer London, the proportion has also fallen to just 16%. All the while, the number of homeless households in England has also risen to more than 50,000 a year, with many of the people affected living in temporary accommodation and almost 2,000 living without a roof over their heads.
To meet increasing demand, the government would need to commission the construction of approximately 250,000 new homes each year, through to 2030. Current annual construction levels sit around 50% of this figure, with only 63% of traditional construction projects delivered on time, and only 49% delivered to budget. It is clear to see that conventional building techniques, whilst still integral, cannot meet the challenge alone. This creates a unique opportunity for offsite construction to become the key building method in the housing industry, with analysts predicting that 2018 will be the breakthrough year for modular. More than 15,000 homes in Britain are built annually using this method. However, according to 2017’s housing white paper, the government intends to increase utilisation of offsite technologies, and increase access to finance, with the aim of raising the total number of modular homes built each year to 100,000 by 2020. In preparation, we recently signed a collaborative partnership agreement with Arcadis, the leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Focusing specifically on the residential sector, we will work alongside the company to develop new modular designs and to build additional capacity in the commercial and technical delivery of new housing.
As part of the partnership, Arcadis will bring residential insight and expertise, along with design and construction management support. This will allow us to focus on our manufacturing and delivery capacity. It means that, together, we can offer a fully integrated housing solution, from initial design concept, through to manufacturing, construction and project completion. Compared to building using traditional methods, the residential sector benefits enormously from offsite construction. More than 80 - 90% of the work can be completed in a factory, like our Newark based facility, a quality controlled environment, unaffected by the weather or skill’s shortages on site. This significantly reduces the likelihood of delays to the project. In addition, offsite offers minimal disruption to the surrounding community by ensuring rapid build and significantly reducing deliveries and activities to site.
Suitable to more than just housing, offsite construction delivers a raft of benefits in all sectors - schools, hotels, communal buildings, further and higher education, retail, commercial outlets, and health, amongst others. Offering a full turnkey solution, we design and build to an exacting specification, offer a wide range of finishes and roofing options, and a design that fits seamlessly alongside any existing structures. Offsite construction solutions are able to create high quality, affordable and cost effective housing in a matter of weeks and the government’s decision to favour offsite construction has the ability to make a step change in the supply of affordable housing.
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