Mike Stevenson, Sidey development director, tells Project Scotland why offsite construction has finally reached a point where it can positively disrupt the way housing is delivered in the UK.
FOR a number of years now, those of us who understand and embrace offsite construction have been championing its benefits through our own marketing messages.
However, so far they have been isolated, individual, and often un-coordinated campaigns to try and raise awareness of offsite construction’s value to society in general, and to the Housing Association sector in particular of this methodology of construction.
Well, not any more. The next few months will be awash with dedicated ‘offsite’ exhibitions, conferences, and awards programmes.
If ever there was a signal that the volume of offsite construction being carried out in the building sector generally has reached a critical mass, then this is it. It is not by chance that the industry has committed to its own shows, or that there is a desire within the housing and construction sectors to come and visit them.
Finally, as if an overnight success, it feels as if offsite construction has finally arrived as a part of the mainstream construction agenda and as a sector it can disrupt in a positive way how housing is delivered in the UK. And quite right too in our view. We have spoken often about the critical housing shortages which are besetting the UK and the even more dire delivery performance of the traditional build sector. This particularly impacts providers into the social and affordable markets whose need to house residents in a timely manner and into homes which are thermally efficient in the long term is so important.That is why it is great to see the offsite sector finally make some noise and start to raise awareness of the outstanding benefits in can deliver to social landlords.
For new housebuilders and those working in and with those social housing providers charged with delivering new homes, to have the opportunity to attend forums in which they can meet the suppliers into the offsite sector and can discover for themselves first hand what the benefits of this method of construction are is a great step forward.
‘Offsite’ addressing so many issues
Offsite Construction addresses so many issues – 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 which present a real threat to delivery programmes. There is more than one housebuilder concerned about the problems of procuring materials to meet existing housing needs, let alone additional ones.
The fact is that rather than increasing capacity, the sector could in fact fall further behind in the delivery of the homes needed for the social and affordable markets.
These key fundamental problems which face a construction industry wanting to carry on building traditionally are clearly dealt with by building offsite; and there are many more benefits.
Building offsite delivers better social value all round – cost savings through reduced on the site construction times, faster delivery to enable people to be housed more quickly, vastly enhanced quality control, significantly improved ‘as-built’ performance which delivers genuine thermal efficiency and reduced running costs for home owners and residents, fewer delays, a systems approach to construction, collaborative working practices to deliver better outcomes more consistently, and onsite health and safety benefits to name just some.
To know that there is now the opportunity to go and learn first hand about the benefits of offsite is a massive step forward and an opportunity which should not be missed.