Lords call for more off-site construction

A report published on July 20th 2018 has highlighted factors that could boost off-site housing manufacturing and therefore boost housing construction by up to 70%.

The Lords’ Science and Technology Select Committee report titled “Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change” suggests attaching conditions for funding housing associations that will drive the uptake in off-site building methods. This is expected to increase productivity and reduce the need for labour, which is in short supply. Off-site building methods were also praised in the report for being environmentally friendly and of high quality.

The Chair of the committee, Lord Patel stated that the construction sector business models as currently used are no longer appropriate and that more trust needs to be built. He suggests creating partnerships between companies to boost the use of off-site manufacture and that the Construction Leadership Council should facilitate this.

This would involve the council helping the government to close the skills gap for off-site manufacture and address the current fragmentation problem faced by this part of the construction sector.

The report points out that the government has already shown willing when it comes to off-site manufacturing and it urges the government to publish performance indicators to assess the investments it has already agreed to. The report also states that if off-site is not chosen for any construction project the reasons should be made clear.

Builders have found the accreditation system for off-site building to be a difficulty when it comes to lending as banks do not understand how to value the method. The report asks the government to explore options for accreditation in this sector.