How To Step Up House Building Output Without Storing Up Quality Issues

To start with a bit of context, to meet the target for new homes in the UK annual completions would have to be double the best rate achieved since the turn of the century. And this will have to be achieved at a time when experienced skilled labour is becoming scarcer.

Leaving feasibility to one side for a moment, the other big risk that has to be managed is quality. Expanding output on this scale raises the real possibility of a huge volume of new homes being built with defects that will dog landlords and owner-occupiers for years to come.

The homes are badly needed. But without innovation, it won’t be possible to build them at the required rate, within sustainable budget limits, while also guaranteeing consistently high-quality levels.

Innovation, Output and Quality

Whether we talk about MMC, offsite, modular or any other label, it’s clear that innovative construction methods are indispensable. And yet, while MMC is gaining traction in healthcare and education construction, the residential sector seems more reluctant to change.

The answer doesn’t necessarily lie in offering subsidies or financial incentives to specify modular builds. With product and process standardisation, cost incentives are already available to developers and contractors who understand the technology.

There are, however, obstacles when it comes to procurement and acceptance of offsite methods by mortgage lenders. As the body of data from offsite residential projects grows these obstacles should become less significant.

Value Engineering

Value engineering approaches are always at the heart of the intricate balancing act between output, cost and quality. Offsite methods provide the ideal environment for value engineering approaches, whereas traditional construction is largely at a dead end.

To meet the house building challenge we also need to expand the modular construction workforce. This will be easier to achieve than for traditional skilled trades where it takes years to become fully competent.

Osborne has delivered multiple residential programmes using MMC. These developments achieve consistently high standards of cost-efficiency, rapid delivery and quality.

For more information on how Osborne is using construction innovation to deliver greater value to affordable and mixed tenure housing programmes, contact Mike Peskin (mike.peskin@osborne.co.uk).