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Is ‘Back to Normal’ What Home-Building Really Needs?

Construction sites are very different places while Covid-19 is still in circulation. It’s estimated that distancing regulations reduce the number of people allowed on site at one time by 30-40%. At the same time, reduced migration and the likelihood of future local lockdowns will worsen the shortage of skilled workers and put many build programmes in jeopardy.

Nobody can predict how long Covid-19 and distancing regulations will remain in force. The lack of a vaccine, or even any guarantee that there will be one that offers lasting immunity, makes it a reasonable assumption that life won’t return to normal soon. But is ‘normal’ something we actually want to get back to anyway?

Covid Has Accelerated Change

Across many business sectors the pandemic has accelerated changes that were already happening. Organisations are finding more efficient ways to work that rely less on large numbers of people converging on a single location. The tools businesses needed to do this were already there – Covid-19 just speeded up their adoption. It’s unlikely that many of these businesses are enthusiastic about turning the clock back.

Should home-building be any different? The way we are accustomed to building homes is inefficient and environmentally unsustainable. It suffers from low productivity and is prone to delays and budget overruns. Is this really a ‘golden age’ that we want to restore?

Efficiency and Reliability

As with other business sectors, the keys to greater efficiency and reliability in home-building already exist. We know that offsite methods are faster, more reliable and more sustainable. In the current environment they make even more sense because small teams can quickly, easily and safely install the dry structure onsite. Being a digitally-driven technology, offsite easily lends itself to the modern approach to remote working and collaboration.

Unlike traditional construction methods, offsite hasn’t yet reached the limits of its potential. Greater adoption of BIM, AI and big data bring exciting possibilities to further improve building design, efficiency and performance in modern, digitally-enabled environments.

Instead of looking back, the home-building sector needs to look forward. The case for offsite is not just about the current crisis, but it may be that Covid-19 has brought a level of urgency for change that wasn’t previously there.

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