UK Construction Sector ‘Needs To Embrace Off-Site Methods’

The UK’s construction sector needs to make substantial changes to the way in which it operates if it is to fulfill the country’s future needs, a report has warned.

Planning and Building Control Today shared the findings of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, which warned that, in its current state, the UK’s construction sector risks falling behind other nations in terms of its productivity and that it could struggle to deliver major infrastructure projects.

According to the report, the major issues currently lie in the skills and labour shortage that the industry is facing. As a result, it is recommending that more construction firms look to off-site methods to improve their productivity and deliver projects more quickly.

Lord Patel, chairman of the committee, said that when creating their report they had heard evidence that off-site construction could boost productivity by 70 per cent.

“There are clear and tangible benefits from off-site manufacture for construction which make a compelling case for its widespread use,” he asserted.

However, the construction industry will need to make substantial changes to its approach if this is to become a reality, after the report found that it’s not being used as often as it could be because “outdated business models” are holding back its adoption.

What’s more, the report suggested that the government should take action to encourage more companies to opt for off-site construction, noting that there should be “presumption in favour” of off-site methods.

There should also be a change in the way projects are procured, with a focus on whole-life value, rather than simply the lowest cost, the report stated.

The report also stressed that off-site construction will need to be used if the government is to meet its target of building 300,000 new properties a year by 2030.

It’s not the first time that off-site construction has been suggested as a solution to hep meet the ambitious house building targets set out by the government. Last month, an article for Building Products suggested that this construction method could be incredibly useful to help meet the need for new social housing.

The news provider noted that the speed with which these kinds of homes can be built is one of the major advantages to taking this approach.

There are currently over one million families on the waiting list for social housing, but just 6,463 new homes were constructed for this purpose in 2017-18. By contrast, over 30,000 social housing properties were constructed each year a decade ago.

But it isn’t only in social housing where off-site construction could be useful. One MP recently suggested that local councils should make more plots of land available for people to self-build, after a survey by the Federation of Master Builders found that 67 per cent of people don’t want to buy the homes currently being designed.

As timber frame houses can have their interior layout customised to suit a person’s needs, and can be erected far quicker than a traditional bricks and mortar house, they could provide the ideal solution for those who want to have a greater say in the design of their own home.

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