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EXPLORING CURRENT THINKING IN OFFSITE 27


cent of respondents who have used MMC to some degree reported that they have used timber panelised methods, 28 per cent SIPs, and 22 per cent CLT timber. Of those who haven’t used MMC before, 39 per cent reported that they would be most interested in timber panelised, 24 per cent in SIPs, and 22 per cent CLT timber. Steel has taken similar leaps, with steel frame unit buildings for example like Mapleton Crescent (also in London) consisting of 254 cutting-edge factory made units from the material, each the size of half a flat. 36 per cent of respondents who have used MMC to some degree reported that they have used steel frame methods and 28 per cent volumetric/pods. Of those who haven’t used MMC before, 16 per cent reported they are most interested in using steel frame, and 8 per cent volumetric/pods. Concrete methods have been progressing too. Although


Aircrete panels for example have been around for over 50 years, they are still proving a speedy, quality technology. One of the rarer techniques among our respondents, 7 per cent of those already utilising modular currently use Aircrete, and 2 per cent of those who don’t yet are most interested in the solution relative to others. Overall, regardless of the variant used, 60 of respondents have used modular technologies to some extent, and of those who haven’t, 8 per cent anticipate doing so within the next year, 28 per cent in 1-2 years, 18 per cent in 3-5 years, 4 per cent in 6-10 years, 6 per cent in over 10 years, and 37 per cent never anticipate using MMC.


PROBLEM ASSESSMENT


WHY IS THE TECHNOLOGY NECESSARY? Adopting new technologies in construction, despite the benefits they may bring, is challenging for housebuilders – it is often easier to trust the established approaches they know


and use the supply chains already developed, than to adopt a technology simply because it may improve on its predecessors in some regards. There are however many issues in the UK housing sector that housebuilders and developers must address, and to which MMC technologies have the potential to make headway in.


Some of the biggest benefits of modular technologies reported by respondents can directly address these issues, with 73 per cent choosing speed as one of their top three benefits and 54 per cent efficiency, though only 14 per cent listed skills in this category. Overall, however, 79 per cent of our respondents believe modular housing could benefit the skills crisis, 80 per cent housing cost, and 89 per cent housing supply. So, it appears MMC’s applicability to all these issues is fairly well understood – even if skills is not viewed as among it’s most beneficial qualities.


WHAT’S STOPPING MMC’S ADOPTION? Given this level of understanding of MMC’s benefits, it is clear that there are significant barriers preventing the technologies from being as widespread in the UK as perhaps they should be. One of the key barriers listed by our respondents was the


initial costs involved in moving to offsite technologies, with 60 per cent listing it as one of its three biggest barriers. Factory purchasing or leasing is one issue here for some types of modular construction, with 71 per cent of respondents reporting that they are not considering owning or leasing a factory to build homes. Perception also proved a common barrier – with many buyers and builders alike stuck with the image of flimsy 80s prefabs in their minds. Displaying this, buyers’ lack of confidence was cited as a major barrier by 58 per cent of respondents. A lack of Government support was another of the most


How much do you think perception of offsite building among the following groups has changed over the last 5 years? PRODUCED IN ASSOCIATION WITH


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