A report by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), highlighting the fact that the skills shortage of construction workers has hit its worst ever levels, is the latest sign that offsite housing volumes must be increased to help overcome the housing crisis
The assertion comes from pan European insulation specialist Actis, a long-term advocate of timber frame as a speedier method of construction with no negative effect on quality.
In its quarterly report on the skills shortage, the FMB found that small and medium-sized companies are struggling in particular to recruit bricklayers and carpenters and that demand for skilled plumbers, electricians and plasterers is also outstripping supply.
Actis UK and Ireland sales director Mark Cooper said: “This latest report highlights yet again that the construction industry is desperately short of skilled workers to help build the hundreds of thousands of homes this country desperately needs. As well as needing to ensure we increase skills training for the longer term and find a way to ensure we don’t lose our best tradespeople after Brexit, we must urgently embrace ways in which we can build those homes in a shorter time, thus necessitating fewer skilled man hours.”
Offsite housing can be built up to 30% quicker than their brick and block counterparts and costs can be reduced by as much as 25%.
Cooper added: “The bulk of the skilled element takes place off-site. Timber frame walls, floors and roofs, complete with electrical wiring, plumbing and insulation are built in factories at relative speed. Indeed, some insulation systems such as Actis Hybrid, which consists of insulation, vapour control layer and breather membrane, can be installed effectively with ease by someone who has had minimal training which can even be delivered via an on-line tutorial.
“As these three in one systems are quicker to install than traditional insulation – many builders report savings of 25 to 50% – this in turn also frees up more man hours.
“In last year’s housing white paper the government proposed an increase in this construction method, with firms encouraged to tap into the £3bn Home Building Fund and the Accelerated Construction programmed to enable this to happen.”