Modular: 21st century 19th century

ry construction, ry technology?

MartinWadsworth,Managing Director of Discrete Heat, discusseswhat’s’s really happening in the modular constructionmarket and howit’s’s impacting on building productmanufact


factory consumes cash like a donkey eats strawberries.We've already seen several high profile casualties likeMBS, Paneloc and Future Form go to the wall despite the apparent housing shortage and rapacious demand for places to live. "You would like to set up a modular

manufacturing facility, Sir? Certainly:That'll be £80m please".

And the market clearly wasn't (isn't?) ready to embrace the new paradigm as local authorities and housing associations metaphorically shift uneasily from foot to foot whilst looking at the floor and mumbling; "I'll 'ave to ask meMum..". So we've seen developers becoming modular manufacturers (Urban Splash & SIG) and modular manufacturers become developers (Legal & General,) to unblock the (metaphorical) plug hole. The problem is, that with a few notable

exceptions, the modular manufacturers are largely offering the same product as the traditional builders, mainly because of the nervousness of the market and the luke-warm response of the warranty providers and underwriters. Having invested millions in a factory, machinery, staff, marketing and stock there's precious little appetite to deviate too much from the

mainstream for fear of scaring away investors and buyers.

But be honest: if you walk into two houses, both identical inside and out, and you know one is built on site of brick and block, and the other is


hen you think of modular construction, what do you imagine? A sleek production

line, populated with skivvying around bo

lting houses together, whilst a bright yellow ABB Robots

few engineers in lab coats and safety glasses studiously tick off their clip boards? Or a 'mobile home' on wheels being shunted through an old

and roofers scurry all over it, glad of the fact it's aircraft hangar as plumbers, plasterers, sparkies

warehouse? Take your pick - I've seen them all. knocking up oversized sheds in an abandoned not raining? Or even a couple of builders

we're dealing with aspire to the first imagining, To be fair, most of the modular companies

from that. However there is one company that is even though in reality they’re some way away

investing heavily in bright yellow robots with a view to creating a car-like production line producing dozens of shiny new houses a week

For many modular manufacturers, waiting for rather than saloons and SUVs.

the big orders to land (why are so many players

it's a battle to keep the lights on, as setting up a how about doing 50 this year & 100 next year?) talking about 10,000 a year in 2-3 years’ time -

Ma Martitin Wadswo th, Ma 36 Wadsworth Managing Dirirector of Dis rete Heat wh iscrete which innovated Th vate ThermaSkirt skirtiting board heati May

2019 ting.

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