cent believe that rising housing costs could be positively addressed by modular technologies. There are some caveats, of course. Quicker construction is

arguably more of a benefit for builders of apartments, because viewing often starts only once all flats are finished, and many private housebuilders sell in stages, which could mean MMC may be less suited to their business model. When asked what forms of housing respondents thought are best suited to building homes offsite, however, this appeared to be subverted, with 53 per cent stating that social housing is most suited for modular methods, 48 per cent housing developments and 46 per cent individual homes. Bringing up the rear were student housing (41 per cent), large-scale housing projects (39 per cent), small blocks of flats (36 per cent), mixed-use (32 per cent) and high-rises (22 per cent). It is also arguable that scale is a vital factor in extracting the best financial benefits of building offsite, especially when it comes to factories. The majority of factory overhead costs such as labour are fixed regardless of output, whereas many site-based construction costs are only incurred when building is taking place. Despite the high number of respondents reporting that they use modular, it appears that the majority of respondents purchase modular materials from another manufacturer, rather than undertaking a full offsite operation themselves. Of those surveyed, 71 per cent stated that they are not considering owning or leasing a factory to build homes, and only 12 per cent currently own or lease a factory to build homes. 7 per cent are considering doing so in the next two years, and 9 per cent in more than two years.

QUALITY AND PRECISION Image has in the past been one of the largest barriers to MMC. Builders and buyers alike have taken some time to shift their perception of modular houses from the

stereotypical low quality, 70s and 80s style prefabs of their youth to the cutting-edge projects being produced currently. Perception is changing, however. According to our respondents, 53 per cent believe that homeowners and buyers’ perceptions of modular building have improved over the last five years and 9 per cent dramatically so, and 53 per cent of builders and developers perceptions have also improved, with 9 per cent dramatically so. Covid has reportedly had some effect here, increasing interest by 50 per cent for housebuilders and developers and 6 per cent dramatically so, with 31 per cent increased for buyers and 8 per cent dramatically. MMC’s ever-increasing quality precision is perhaps behind

this. As with any other kind of product, if done correctly, building a home in factory conditions can allow for much higher levels of precision, and in recent decades the continuing growth in the use of digital technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) has only increased this precision. It appears that this modern progression is fairly well understood by respondents, with 47 per cent of respondents citing quality as one of their top three benefits to building offsite, and 26 per cent precise construction – though only 11 per cent per cent cited ensuring as-designed performance as a top benefit. As stated earlier, while there’s a perception that offsite’s

suitability varies for different building types, just 1 per cent of respondents stated that no forms of housing are suitable for modular construction. So, it appears that the method is seen as flexible, and its precision is not exclusive to ‘cookie- cutter’ style apartment blocks.

SKILLS AND SAFETY The UK construction industry is undergoing a skills crisis, with research from The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) reporting that 64 per cent of construction firms are currently

What do you think are the biggest three benefits of building offsite? PRODUCED IN ASSOCIATION WITH


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