The perks of MMC and the Covid-19 effect

10th February, 2021

Pre-Covid, interest in modern methods of construction (MMC), specifically modular, was steadily growing.

However, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions put in place – along with the government's 'Build Build Build' and 'green industrial revolution' pledges – have seen greater emphasis placed on its utilisation as developers and housebuilders look for solutions to deliver much-needed housing quickly.

That is the view of Wayne Oakes, director at multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy Dice. He says: "The benefits of modular construction are no secret – increased safety on site and schedule certainty as well as less material waste and fewer delays."

But despite many in the industry calling for greater use, Oakes says modular take-up has remained slow and only accounts for a very small percentage of housing delivery at the moment.

A recent report from Savills predicts the proportion of new homes built using MMC will increase from the current 6-10% to 20% of the market share in the coming years. However, in order to meet not only the UK's housing delivery target but also the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, this has to increase.

Breaking the stigma

According to Oakes, the industry has been slow to accept MMC. There is a stigma around modular and a general reluctance to change as people are working in the traditional way.

"There is a perception that the product is low quality and has no integrity of design, but that simply isn't the case now," he explains. "There is a real lack of knowledge within the sector about modular and this reluctance to learn is stunting innovation and growth in the residential sector – and ultimately preventing us from building more homes more quickly."

Unlocking affordable housing schemes

According to Oakes, the pandemic has begun to break this stigma as developers and landowners are starting to consider how to move forward. What's more, local authorities are looking towards modular building as a way to unlock residential sites to deliver affordable housing, Oakes says.

"One such project that we're currently working on is with Bassetlaw District Council. The modular housing scheme is the first MMC project for the authority and will deliver 120 homes in Nottinghamshire," he says.

"Working closely with Faithful+Gould – the project/commercial manager and principal designer for the scheme – this project marks our tenth modular scheme. We are responsible for looking at the flood risk, drainage, transport, and structural design as well as providing specialist MMC advice."

Andrew Prickett, director and head of residential at Faithful+Gould, adds: "The modular approach will help us deliver the Radford Street development quicker, more cost effectively, and crucially, at a consistent and high quality."

"By combining Faithful+Gould's knowledge of the modular housing sector with our exceptional approach to delivery, we can help the Council deliver on its vision, and the UK reach its target of 300,000 new homes each year."

Delivering high-quality homes

Oakes goes on to say: "It's clear that more and more decision-makers are waking up to the fact that modular housing is an incredibly viable option for a post-pandemic recovery. But we still need to go further."

"Schemes such as the one with Bassetlaw District Council help deliver modern, innovative and energy efficient housing schemes that improve neighbourhoods, support local jobs as well as the council's ambition to increase the amount of housing."

However, this is needed on a wider scale to really 'make a dent' in the 300,000 new homes target set by the government.

He concludes: "The scale of our work has definitely increased – from roughly 10 units on a development to almost 700 on our most recent scheme – so I just hope we continue to see action rather than all the talk of pre-Covid times."

Original Link: Property Investor Today

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