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How modular construction is helping to solve the UK housing crisis

Mike Price (pictured) is director at MPA Group

Modular construction is the process where building components are produced in a factory, before being transported to the site for assembly. It is not a new concept, but in recent years the method has seen a surge of popularity.

Below I examine the main advantages of the system and key sector issues it is addressing.

Solving the housing crisis

Westminster has pledged that 300,000 new homes will be built every year by the mid-2020s. To help meet this goal, the government is turning to modular construction as the method is reported to produce houses up to 30% quicker than traditional building practices.

Such speed is possible for a number of reasons. Firstly, all of the components are created in a controlled, efficient factory environment. This is in contrast to the often unpredictable nature of building sites, which can reduce productivity. Furthermore, if necessary, factories can operate 24/7 and are unaffected by weather.

Saving money and the environmental impact

One of the other challenges facing the property industry is the cost of building houses, which is another issue which modular construction is helping to address.

This process reduces build time, which means reduced labour cost and also saves money by being environmentally friendly. Additionally, the well-designed components mean constructions are generally better insulated and more airtight than those created traditionally and therefore retain heat better.

Addressing the skills shortage

Modular construction is helping to tackle the property sector’s worrying skills shortage by reducing the number of skilled workers required. While such specialised staff members are still needed in the offsite factories, far fewer are needed at the actual developments, as once the components reach that stage of the process, the only task left is assembly.

The future of housebuilding

Through the use of modular construction, the government is clearly committed to improving the country’s housing situation and is encouraging any form of innovation that could help tackle the issues. The R&D Tax Credit scheme is one example of this, with innovating companies able to claim back a proportion of their R&D investment in the form of tax credits.

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