Posted: 14th July
The benefits of offsite construction
What are the benefits of offsite construction? The market for off-site manufacture is expanding rapidly in the UK. According to a survey conducted by Inside Housing magazine; over the next three years, 56.8% of 22,544 homes planned by 17 of the UK’s largest housing associations will be constructed using offsite methods, including timber frame and modular construction.
Although it can’t really be described as a new method of construction, (it’s been around since Roman times), it’s demonstrating significant innovation within the sector.
Offsite manufacturing is typically associated with affordable housing and student accommodation, but it is becoming more common in other areas. For example, London’s iconic Leadenhall Building, with its tight footprint and constraints around site storage, was 85% manufactured offsite, while Heathrow’s Terminal T2A, with its deployment of modular M&E, has saved one million onsite working hours.
Offsite construction offers many advantages over traditional ‘brick and block’ construction. Here are the reasons why:
Speed: There are significant time savings to be made using offsite modular construction. With project start to completion times cut by up to 50%, disruption to clients and the local community is minimised – a particular benefit in the case of a school or hospital. Because a high proportion of the build and fit-out is completed in the factory, on-site time required for final finishing is reduced.
Sustainability: Offsite construction is ahead of the game when it comes to sustainability. Work in the factory can be scheduled to start at the same time as the site is being prepared, so the two processes can take place in parallel, resulting in an accelerated build programme. The knock on effect is a reduction in waste, as well as the reduced impact of construction activities on-site, such as noise, ground disturbance and vehicle movements.
Safety and working conditions: Transferring work off-site into a controlled environment improves safety. It’s much safer for us to produce something in a controlled factory environment rather than building outside, at height, while exposed to changeable weather.
Whole life cost: Enhanced specification standards and build quality can reduce occupancy costs related to energy use, defects and repairs.
It’s difficult to quantify the exact contribution that offsite makes to the £90 billion that the construction sector is worth to the UK economy. Some researchers believe it could be as high as £4 billion, while others claim it is as low as £1.75 billion.
But whichever end of the spectrum, those working in the increasingly specialised, technologically-advanced and skilled world of offsite construction are united in the view that it has the capability and capacity to play a far bigger role in the industry.