Latest advances in modular construction have the potential to solve the UK’s affordable housing shortage, according to Newark-based Caledonian Modular. It’s not just Caledonian saying it either, the government, in its autumn 2017 budget, said that it would ‘favour offsite manufacturing on all publicly funded construction projects from 2019’.
Caledonian’s offsite accommodation modules for workers at EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power station provide a good case in point for those looking for examples of how modular construction is able to deliver high quality, cost effective housing.
The company manufactured and supplied 1,496 modules as part of a £50m contract with Laing O’Rourke to house workers at Hinkley Point C. The modules are delivered to site 96% complete, enabling completion in a matter of weeks, creating hotel-grade accommodation in the process. All modules have en-suite rooms and are fully fitted out.
Paul Lang, CEO at Caledonian Modular, said: “Workers at Hinkley are able to move into the accommodation within weeks of the modules being delivered to site. That should send a clear message to housing providers – that our SMART construction solutions are able to create high quality residential housing in a matter of weeks.”
Each 34 bedroom block is completed on site at Hinkley within just eight weeks from delivery, compared to an average of 32 weeks to build a conventional dwelling.
Paul added: “The government’s decision to favour offsite construction has the ability to make a step change in supply of affordable housing. In stark contrast to this is the worrying rise in the number of young people trying to get onto the housing ladder, combined with an increase in homeless households.”
In order to meet increasing demand, the government would need to commission construction of around 250,000 new homes each year, through to 2030. Current annual construction levels are 50% of this level, 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 an integral part of solving the UK’s housing crisis,” added Paul. Analysts predict that 2018 will be the breakthrough year for modular.
Currently, around 15,000 new homes in Britain are built annually using offsite construction. However, according to the government’s 2017’s housing whitepaper, it intends to increase utilisation of offsite technologies, and improve access to finance, with the aim of raising the total number of modular homes built each year to 100,000 by 2020.
In preparation, Caledonian has recently signed a collaborative partnership agreement with Arcadis, the leading global Design & Consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Focusing specifically on the residential sector. “We will work alongside Arcadis to develop new modular designs and to build additional capacity in the commercial and technical delivery of new housing,” said Paul.
“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 conventional construction, the residential sector benefits enormously from offsite construction. More than 80 – 90% of the work can be completed in Caledonian’s Newark 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 to site. Modular is also more economical and has less impact on the environment, with a significant reduction in waste and the consumption of materials such as cement, compared to traditional build methods.
Modular, like Caledonian’s SMART construction solution, not only helps to alleviate the housing crisis sooner, but it can increase industry capacity by making more productive use of labour and skills, and offer greater certainty in scheduling.
Paul concludes: “We have a strong history of collaboration with Arcadis. This partnership enables us to leverage design and delivery resources from a large multi-disciplined consultancy to jointly develop precision manufactured solutions for the residential sector. The application of Design for Manufacture and Assembly techniques offers a full turnkey solution.”
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