A new report by a major government advisor has estimated that up to 50,000 new jobs could be created if the government targeted 75,000, high-quality, well designed modular homes per year by 2030.
The report has been co-authored by Mike De’Ath, partner at HTA Design and Mark Farmer, founder and CEO of Cast Consultancy who is also the MMC housing champion for homebuilding for the housing minister.
Following the government’s Build Build Build agenda to encourage Britain to build more houses, the report, called Build Homes Build Jobs Build Innovation is calling on the government to make modular housing a driving force in Britain’s housebuilding.
Arguably, perhaps one of the biggest benefits to modular housing is the speed at which houses can be delivered. Also, despite the increase in job opportunities, modular housebuilding actually requires 60% fewer workforce meaning that there is a significant increase in site safety and a decrease in noise pollution to surrounding residents. There are also less materials required and less construction traffic.
Research suggests that MMC including modular housebuilding can also reduce carbon emissions by up to 40% compared to traditional methods and with an investment programme could help the government achieve its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
With increased efficiency and higher productivity, there is around 80% less waste than traditional construction methods and 97% of this can be recycled. As manufacturing takes place in a controlled environment, this results in great predictability with regards to costs, quality and delivery outcomes.
With all of the benefits outlined on modular housing, why hasn’t it taken off into mainstream construction? The report outlines the following reasons:
• Unclear basic language and terminology
• Lack of demand and supplyside collaboration and aggregation
• Political ideology restricting tenure diversity and programmatic delivery
• Vested interests, delivery and procurement models fail to promote process integration
• Lack of latest MMC product evidence and data
• Skills training and qualification regimes still hard wired to business as usual
• Current building regulations and warranty market not aligned to the future
• Development and asset finance market reticent to securitise
• Lack of system interoperability and generic commonality
• Planners and planning system not aligned to accelerated delivery opportunity
To achieve the modular target, the government is being urged to use the upcoming Autumn Spending Review to announce an “enhanced Affordable Housing Programme (AHP)” with incentives for using modular solutions.
The report states that this could include a First Homes initiative that is better targeted at increasing the use of modular.
The next AHP, which will run from 2021-2026, currently has the target that 25% of homes delivered through strategic partnerships must be built using MMC. However, more specific details about these requirements are yet to be announced.
Mr Farmer said: “Modular manufacturing is the single biggest gamechanger when it comes to building more homes.
“Government support and investment in the modular construction of homes will deliver the UK Industrial Strategy’s skills, productivity, technology and carbon reduction objectives. Increasing modular delivery into the market will also enable a new generation of innovators, from SMEs to large UK and international businesses investing and operating in the UK, offering more choice to home buyers and renters.”
Mr De’Ath said: “Our experience of designing modular manufactured housing over the past decade demonstrates the huge benefits to housing delivery. New modular homes outperform traditional new homes in nearly every area, not least the quality of build and speed possible through innovation.
“Our ambition for 75,000 new, beautifully designed, modular homes is realistic and achievable, so our ask of government therefore is simple: help us stimulate and then galvanise the demand for modular homebuilding. With this help, a sustained long-term pipeline can underpin investment in manufacturing to deliver the quality homes we need while creating the jobs we want.”