Tony Woods, head of construction in the LHC Technical team, explains the pivotal role LHC plays bringing standards, innovation and procurement together
Where does your passion for innovation in construction stem from?
I trained as a civil engineer and began my career at the Building Research Establishment (BRE) where there’s a big commitment to innovation, as well as standards and procedures.
I worked on several research and commercial projects while I was there, including understanding the impact of wind load on different structures and developing one of the first code level 4/5 houses, a leading example of a sustainable home which we built at the BRE Innovation Park.
I also developed an interest in offsite construction at BRE and moved on to work with several offsite manufacturers, working in multiple roles from design through to site manager. In these two very different environments, I gained knowledge of standards and their application, and how innovation comes to market.
Are you excited about the potential of offsite construction?
You could say I’ve been excited about the potential of offsite construction for a number of years. The concept, of course, isn’t new but updated manufacturing techniques and the urgent need for more houses in the UK are driving interest.
Having worked for offsite manufacturers, I understand their need for higher volume production runs in order to deliver the efficiencies and pricing social housing providers need. However, a change of approach is required for local authorities and housing associations to commission higher production.
That’s all a question of land; having a complete picture of your available land – now and in the near future – and understanding whether it is suitable for offsite construction. Once you know your total volume of land, you can commission higher volumes of offsite construction and that will bring your price down.
Not many housing providers are in that position and that needs to change for offsite construction to really take off.
What role does LHC’s Framework for Offsite Construction of New Homes play in driving the change?
It’s helping in lots of ways. Firstly, by helping housing providers understand the close relationship they must have with manufactures from the offset.
Manufacturers need to be involved in the design of buildings and homes so they can advise and modify plans using their knowledge of the manufacturing process and the way homes are delivered and installed on site.
Of course, our framework also ensures the necessary quality standards are in place and that manufacturers are capable of delivering high quality homes at speed. There is an increasing number of new entrants to offsite construction and we help clients find and work with manufactures that meet all the required criteria.
When it comes to the land issue, we’re facilitating collaboration between groups of housing providers. By aggregating their available land, they can commission a decent volume of housing and bring costs down.
What makes you proud of the work you do?
The LHC Technical team plays a pivotal role helping innovations come to market for the benefit of clients, communities and suppliers. Our frameworks are kept under constant review, so we are ahead of the curve introducing innovations capable of enhancing the quality, sustainability and value for money of new buildings and homes.
Our range of experience means we understand the aims and ambitions of all parties and can bring standards, innovation and procurement together. We provide a shared understanding of projects that help clients and suppliers work together very effectively.
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Please note: this is a commercial profile.