Expansion of Affordable Housing Must Start With Affordable and Efficient Construction
Despite an urgent need for more affordable housing, completion of new homes is still falling way behind the demand. The causes of this shortfall in supply are varied and complex and lie partly in the procurement process.
What seems clear is that the way out of the crisis must involve greater use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Even before Covid-19, traditional building methods faced difficulties owing to shortages of skilled labour. On socially-distanced construction sites, it’s even less feasible to step up output levels to reach anything close to the 340,000 new homes needed each year.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is still a lack of understanding regarding MMC. Many myths and misconceptions endure. To help overcome this, the Housing Forum recently published a guide called MMC for Affordable Housing Developers. This document deals with common assumptions people make about MMC such as lack of quality, difficulty in securing finance and confusion over contracts.
It’s important to focus on the significant benefits adopting MMC brings to affordable housing developers:
- Costs are dependable so that the business case can be made with greater certainty.
- Homes are completed and ready for occupation up to 30% faster than with traditional construction.
- Building performance and energy efficiency levels are guaranteed to meet design requirements.
- Build quality is more reliable to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.
On top of these benefits, production output is easier to scale because it doesn’t rely on scarce skilled labour. MMC also has a lower environmental impact than traditional methods.
If the ambition is to significantly increase the supply of affordable housing, comparing the certainty and opportunity of MMC with the limitations and risks of traditional methods makes an unanswerable case. It’s time that procurement practice caught up with this reality.
The reasons why home building targets cannot be met without greater use of MMC are explored more fully in this case study. Osborne’s approach is all about finding solutions for customers. We have experience of applying MMC to home-building projects and can provide sustainable solutions for affordable housing developers.