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Offsite construction is the answer to capacity concerns

Posted: October 10, 2014

Offsite Construction is the answer to growing capacity concerns…..

The past few weeks has seen the annual round of political party conferences agree overwhelmingly that there is a need for more housing in the UK with the shortfall against what is required each year continuing to grow; at the same time however some leading construction commentators question whether there is sufficient industry capacity to meet demands.

Mike Stevenson from offsite Fenestration specialists Sidey Limited, the founding partner of the Fabric First Academy offers this as a thought….

“In my experience the picture regarding the building of new homes is as complicated as it has been for some time.  There are so many different trains of thought in terms of how the volume of homes which people universally agree is needed can be delivered.  There is debate as to what type of housing is needed to meet the needs of the future population, and above all of this, is there anywhere near enough capacity to deliver it”?

“The latter point is perhaps the most important.  While housing policy remains a political hot potato, regardless of the colour or make up of the next government, nothing is going to matter if there is insufficient capacity to deliver.”

“There is little argument these days that the labour and skills shortages projected by some in the industry for a long time have become a reality; there are also significant and not wholly unexpected materials shortages to contend with, and these are extremely serious; a real threat to building programmes”.

“There is more than one house builder concerned about the problems of procuring materials to meet  existing housing needs let alone additional ones, and the fact is that rather than increasing capacity, the sector could in fact go backwards at a time when it can least afford it”.

Offsite construction has a pivotal role to play in delivering much needed capacity….

“It is why we, as a part of the offsite industry, believe that offsite has such a pivotal role to play in the future of construction.  The key fundamental problems facing a construction industry wanting to carry on building traditionally at a time of shortage and increasing demand are clearly dealt with by building offsite.  Skills shortages are eradicated; building with timber or steel framed construction can reduce the impact of materials shortages meaning that structures can be wind and watertight sooner, and follow on trades can get started sooner thus not compromising programmes; and building this way delivers better social benefits as well as cost savings through reduced on site construction times”.

“Of course there are many more advantages to building offsite – faster delivery to enable people to be housed more quickly, vastly enhanced quality control, significantly improved ‘as-built’ performance providing genuine thermal efficiency which will deliver reduced running costs for occupiers,  fewer delays, a systems approach to construction, collaborative working practices to deliver better outcomes more consistently, as well as onsite health and safety benefits”. 

Offsite construction, as championed by the government, must be the first consideration……

“These are just some of the advantages.  For those with money and with the need to quickly provide housing for rapidly expanding population bases, offsite construction, as championed by the government, must be the first consideration”.