Modular construction has been in the headlines recently, as it’s seen as a key component in addressing the UK’s housing shortage. Constructing parts of a building in factory conditions off-site and then assembling them on-site makes sense for a variety of reasons.

Higher build quality, lower costs and a shorter timeframe for construction are top of that list. Here are five things you may not know about the fascinating world of modular or off-site construction:

  1. From 2019, the UK government will favour off-site construction for all publicly funded building projects.  Homes England, the government’s ‘housing accelerator’ published a 5-year strategic plan in December 2018 that will make modular construction a requirement for housing projects. The move is seen as a big step towards meeting the government’s target of building 300,000 new homes every year, within five years. Homes England has a £2.5 billion development fund to support smaller builders in the field who cannot access finance from banks.
  2. Berkeley Homes and Legal & General have both invested in off-site construction factories in the past few years. Berkeley Homes’ modular factory in north Kent will be completed this year and will start production in 2020.  Legal & General’s Yorkshire based manufacturing facility is already operational, with their first modular homes installed on site in September last year.
  3. Modular homes are sometimes seen as “boring boxes”, but this doesn’t have to be the case. According to a RIBA study a few years ago, one of the top turn-offs for buyers of new homes is a lack of flexibility and individuality. However, if customers are involved at the design stage, a modular home can potentially be perfectly tailored to their requirements.
  4. Although modular construction is inherently more environmentally friendly than traditional methods of construction, some innovative green construction companies are maximising the environmental impact in surprising ways. Bristol-based ModCell create modular buildings based on straw-bale panels. Their technology builds carbon-negative buildings on a commercial scale, including housing, schools, commercial premises and public buildings. Heating costs are reduced by up to 85% for buildings constructed using ModCell’s technology.
  5. Modular homes can be built much faster than traditionally constructed dwellings, often around 50% quicker. Multiple providers give estimates of 8-12 weeks to completion, including ground preparation works on-site.  Compare this to an average 24-32 weeks for traditionally built homes (2016 figures) and the time advantage of the off-site approach is clear.

There’s so much more to learn about the benefits of modular construction and why it’s such a hot topic right now. If you’d like to find out more, I recently had the privilege of discussing the topic with Paul Ruddick, MD of the UK’s leading Modular Construction Company, Red10, here.