Solving the Housing Crisis – What Does ‘Reinventing Construction’ Mean in Practice?

Faster, better, cheaper and safer – the list of expectations for residential construction seems to be ever-growing. And that’s a good thing. Homes are a central feature of people’s lives so it’s entirely appropriate to have the highest expectations.

Alongside growing expectations for outputs, we also have the market and economic realities. Covid-19 has been a shock to the industry and it still affects how we are able to work. The economy has shrunk and there’s more uncertainty ahead. So it’s no coincidence that the third phase of the CLC Roadmap to Recovery is called ‘Reinvent.’

If we don’t reinvent, we don’t have a chance of building high quality homes at the required rate. The risks of not adapting include falling short of completion targets while storing up quality and sustainability issues that could plague the industry for years to come.

Becoming More Systematic

The case for greater use of offsite methods in home building has been made persuasively and often. It’s unlikely that anyone seriously disputes the logic. The value of a more systematic approach was made recently by the Minister for Building Safety, Stephen Greenhalgh, in front of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

In his submission, the minister said: ‘you know inherently there is very minimal risk, you know you are using the right materials, the right way and it’s properly sequenced. That is part of the culture shift we need to see in the system.’

Offsite construction isn’t new. Osborne has been delivering projects for 15 years using offsite methods. High quality homes that are pleasant to look at and live in can be built faster and cheaper. We know how to do this.

‘Reinvent’ doesn’t mean coming up with a new building method, it means changing the way that projects are procured and managed so that better methods become the norm.

And that’s the culture shift that is so urgently needed. Rather than going over the same ground about which building methods to adopt, we need to focus on the parts of the process that are really impeding change. That’s where reinvention is most needed.

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