Understanding the Need for Offsite Construction
There has been quite a bit of hype and mixed-messaging about housing numbers in recent weeks, with many inside and outside the industry calling for a new approach or a more innovative solution to speed up the delivery of new homes - but what would that even look like?
It is broadly accepted that Ireland is in the middle of a property supply crisis and cannot meet its construction targets without considering and initiating alternative construction techniques, similar to moves we are seeing in the UK. In order to ramp up the delivery of new homes, both private and social, and to move towards property market stability, it seems clear that at least a partial shift from our traditional and typical methods of home construction will be required.
Enter Offsite Construction, which is a highly productive method of building. Offsite Construction is being acknowledged as being a key part of the solution to the current lack of supply. For example, in “Stimulating housing supply - Government initiatives (England)”, published in March 2018, under the section titled Accelerated Construction, the Government committed to supporting offsite construction methods by including a commitment to:
“Catalyse changes in the wider housing market, through supporting offsite manufacturing techniques.”
The current shortage of skilled construction workers in both Ireland and the UK, particularly in the typical on-site building trades, reinforces the fact that traditional building methods are not going to yield results as well as offsite construction can. The offsite process doesn’t require the same level of on-site labour as traditional construction. In fact generally just a few contractors are required on-site to initially erect the frames. Of course, there may be a need for some specialist trades to be engaged, but in most cases, it is minimised by the design, manufacture and development of the builds. One of the core benefits of offsite construction is that it facilitates the delivery of units effectively in a labour-efficient way - this becomes increasingly important as the industry struggles to attract and retain skilled labour at all levels.
Offsite Construction provides many advantages.
Building offsite has several advantages that make it a major force in the construction industry including:
Better and safer working conditions due to building in factories with fewer workers and therefore, reduced health and safety problems.
High standards of buildings can be delivered - not only once but repetitively/consecutively. Due to the technological advances used in offsite builds, and the standard of quality control procedures, occurrences of mistakes or errors that can often hold up projects are minimised.
Delivery is swifter than traditional building models as the site can be prepared while building components are being manufactured offsite. Weather cannot influence the time-frame and offsite builds are reliably punctual.
Offsite construction is more environmentally friendly and causes less disruption to the public. Units are manufactured before being transported quickly and efficiently for final assembly on-site. It boasts 50% less emissions than traditional builds.
Cost is lowered compared to traditional building methods when considering the time-frame. It is also definitive and accurate due to its detailed designs, statistics and real time data. It can be up to 33% less expensive.
Offsite mitigates risks as the system is shaped to reduce conflict while providing faster drafting without the potential of quality damage to units.
Evolusion Innovation are recognised experts in Offsite Construction, and are currently engaged in the design and development of projects using volumetric/modular builds, and in projects using panellised builds. The volumetric/modular approach sees complete units being manufactured and constructed in the factory and then being craned into position and assembled on-site, whereas the alternative approach involves LGS panels (walls and floors) being built at offsite facilities and then transported to and assembled on-site.
As building has remained such a traditional industry, it is only natural that new and innovative processes of building will be met with some questions. Education about the practical realities of offsite construction is a very real challenge to be overcome. From our perspective, offsite construction is extremely flexible and suits all types of construction projects including student accommodation, residential developments, hotels, commercial units, and education and healthcare buildings. As infrastructure improves, such engineered solutions are the most reliable way to meet and exceed client expectations.