Project Scotland

Offsite to play vital role in the biggest growth sectors

It has been widely reported that two of the largest growth sectors in the coming years will be affordable/social housing and student accommodation. Steve Hardy, Sidey’s joint managing director, explains why offsite construction will play an integral role in assisting with delivering such projects on time and within budget

IT might seem an odd thing to say that delivery on time and within budget has never been more important than it is now – these things should be a given – but with the sector undertaking the biggest sustained programme of student accommodation building ever the joint pressures of cost and delivery predictability are at an all-time high.

Ultimately term times dictate when buildings need to be ready, and failure to deliver on time can have catastrophic consequences for the client, the students and the supply chain; projects can often slip back a full year if they cannot be guaranteed to be delivered in time, and for clients the revenue losses can significantly disrupt their business plans and their ability to make suitable accommodation available for their students.

With the traditional construction sector generally reported to be delivering projects on time at a rate lower than 50%, and with material costs and material availability difficult to predict – in addition to well documented skills and labour shortages – it is little wonder that the student accommodation sector has embraced offsite manufacturing as the ideal choice to ensure its needs are met.

The cost and delivery predictability that offsite construction offers is far more assured, and buildings developed through supply chain collaboration and complementary specification offer a guarantee of performance ‘as built’ and not just ‘as designed’ for duration of their lifetime.

With a particular understanding of the needs of the student population in terms of large areas of glass to provide natural light, safety, security and pleasing aesthetics, Sidey’s student accommodation window and door range and KitFix® system is ideal for those looking to design and build new accommodation using offsite construction.

As a company we have been a significant part of the supply chain for many offsite manufactured developments. Working collaboratively with design teams, offsite panel manufacturers and major constructors we have contributed to the delivery on time and within budget of some of the most outstanding student accommodation developments in the UK.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING ISSUES ARE AS PRONOUNCED

Equally, the implications for the social housing sector are as pronounced; with the pressure on them to be the providers of much of the housing for the affordable market, once again an inability to deliver on time has a crippling effect on provision.

It is the social housing sector who have funds to build, and if legislation were to be changed in the future then their ability to build even more would be further increased.

The solution once again to these problems has to lie in the growth of offsite construction. Costs are now no more than when building through standard construction methods, but the two huge pluses are the delivery of better buildings by design, and delivery on time.

There is a growing lobby of government agencies, procurement organisations and individual housing associations all reviewing whether they should directly invest into, or partner with offsite manufacturing factories; they are recognising that the housing crisis which the country faces is being exacerbated by a basic failure in the construction sector – an inability to deliver on time.

Offsite is well and truly proven as a construction option and it is also the way forward for the social housing sector wanting to build better quality homes; cost effectively, and most importantly sure to be delivered on time.

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