Understanding Offsite Construction: The Cost Debate
Big cost savings come from designing the right product to suit offsite technologies; this means working with the design team at early stages to design for modular rather than just finding the right modular system to suit the design.
There are many different offsite technologies, with more coming to the market every month. The first step for our team at Evolusion Innovation is always to advise contractors on the best and most suitable offsite technology for their particular project. There is no single standard solution. The most appropriate solution will depend upon the site, building height and a range of other factors.
One of the biggest problems we are seeing at the moment with offsite adoption is that projects are not being managed properly. The main contractor’s design team needs to be experienced in managing offsite construction projects from start to finish. The only way to achieve all the time and cost benefits possible is by exemplary management, keeping everything working in sequence. Planning is everything. The importance of having the project managed by a team well experienced in offsite construction is critical. There is a huge amount of learning involved so having a team that has worked on that fast-track process and that includes people who understand the details makes all the difference. Things happen differently on site compared with traditional building sites; everything happens more quickly. The project is much more delicate. For example, the protection of structures during transport until they are erected onsite might not be fully understood by a less experienced team.
“With the benefit of €2 billion worth of project experience over the past 15 years, it has become abundantly clear that once the right technologies - appropriate to that particular project - are selected, and provided that the entire build programme is managed correctly by an experienced contractor, then offsite construction is invariably and significantly more cost efficient.”
The true cost model for offsite construction is broadly misunderstood. Offsite isn’t necessarily cheap, what you need to do is really embrace it. That is to say, the product or super-structure isn’t necessarily cheaper, however, when it is managed properly the overall project gains are huge. When we talk about offsite construction being 40% faster and more cost efficient, it is important to realise that there are other elements that must be built out, like the core, and you still have to clad the building and commission the building - there are certain things that take time. The building can be erected perhaps five-times faster than traditional buildings but you still have to commission all the corridors and this takes time. Finishing out each floor can take weeks. For overall delivery, volumetric building is 40% more efficient, and panel construction is perhaps 20% more efficient than the traditional building process. As mentioned, exemplary planning, execution and management of the right technologies for the particular project are key to achieving the maximum efficiencies possible. By careful selection of projects and using a high-rise volumetric technology, in our experience, offsite projects are consistently profitable over traditional construction budgets.
About Evolusion Innovation:
As principal consultants for the tier one contractors, the team at Evolusion Innovation has been involved in over €2 billion worth of offsite construction projects across Ireland, the UK and Europe over the past 15 years.