Understanding Offsite Construction with Brexit Looming
From 2019, the UK government will 'favour' offsite manufacturing on all publicly funded construction projects, so how is this likely to play out?
As a result of the UK budget, the Treasury pledged that the UK government will use its purchasing power to drive modern methods of construction, or MMC, across capital projects in areas such as education, transport, defence and health. Furthermore, the UK budget document revealed some interesting findings including that relevant departments in the government will be in favour of offsite construction specifically, by 2019. The government are said to be handing over £170m as part of a “sector deal” to fund innovation, research and development to boost productivity in the sector. Research carried out by McKinsey found that productivity in the construction sector was far lower than the UK average and costing the sector more than £15bn a year.
In London alone, rising population, high property prices and construction skills shortages are putting house supply under pressure. Anne Corr of Enterprise Ireland considers Ireland’s close trade ties and world-leading commitment to digital and offsite construction to hold the answer to tackling the crisis. In the UK, the government is hoping to build 300,000 homes per year and it is obvious that there is a huge need for high-quality housing in London, and indeed the greater UK area; however, like most cities and towns, the property development industry is besieged with demand but unable to cope with supply delivery. Rising population is an issue as well as the price of property, the availability of skilled workers and not forgetting, a lack of space to build such developments.
Irish experts can offer the UK solutions with their innovative and modern methods of construction.
The UK is a vital trading partner and Enterprise Ireland supports the trade of €1.29bn worth of construction products and related services to the UK. Ireland is best placed to provide the UK with the supports because we are close-by and we have the technology available. Collaboration between the UK and Ireland is something that needs to be encouraged as trade ties are mutually beneficial to both countries. Finding the solutions together will improve the long-term housing supply strategy, ultimately future proofing the industry to another level.
Offsite construction offers many benefits:
Producing houses in a factory setting frees up the main site thus enabling other works to be completed and therefore, accelerating the construction process.
Provides improved quality and limits defects.
Modular construction allows architects to overcome the restrictions of constricted space requirements of inner cities while generating quality and inspiring designs.
Offsite is a considerably more sustainable approach to construction and boasts a reduced carbon footprint. The waste impact on local environments is decreased.
Weather delays are not an issue as building in factories is weather proofed and therefore, reduces work delays and loss of money.
Offsite construction can offer faster delivery without compromising on safety of site staff. As construction is delivered through a controlled environment there are less chances of health or safety risks.
The impact of Brexit is causing an uneasy atmosphere in the construction industry and the implications are not yet entirely clear. However, it is vital we remain focused and adapt to the opportunities it brings to develop the construction industry. For the inexperienced, ‘offsite construction' is exactly like it sounds. It is building and constructing whole buildings in a factory setting and not on site like traditional methods. Every component is brought from the off-site location to be assembled on site to complete the construction. It is a seamless and efficient method for the provision of housing (and buildings of all other uses).
There has been a misplaced perception in the past that offsite construction does not provide the highest quality build. This is not the case, and the offsite manufacturing and construction industry has demonstrated this through the delivery of a variety of high-quality low, medium and high rise buildings. With technology advancing rapidly, offsite is the future of construction. While many in Ireland are already on board with such developments, with some of the key industry disruptors driving the offsite industry from Ireland, there is still room to improve on the people’s education on what offsite manufacturing (OSM) and offsite construction actually entails. With offsite enabling high quality homes to be produced more quickly and cheaper, surely this is something the people not only need but want.
About Evolusion Innovation: The team at Evolusion Innovation have been involved in over €2 billion worth of offsite construction projects across Ireland, the UK and Europe over the past 15 years. View our current career opportunities at www.EvolusionInnovation.com