The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report ‘Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change’ warns that the construction sectors current operation cannot meet the UK’s need for housing
The report also states that the sector’s current state of form could lead to struggles to deliver infrastructure and is falling behind other countries in terms of construction productivity.
With the sector facing a skills and labour shortage, the Government is searching for solutions.
The committee highlighted offsite-manufacture (OSM) as a method to increase construction productivity.
Offsite manufacture has the ability to improve the quality and efficiency of buildings while reduces the strain on labour needs and costs.
Lord Patel, Chairman of the Committee said: “There are clear and tangible benefits from off-site manufacture for construction which make a compelling case for its widespread use. We heard evidence that OSM could increase productivity in the sector by up to 70%.”
The alternative method of construction has also been found to reduce the environmental impact associated with more traditional methods of building.
However, the committee found that outdated business models were holding plans back to implement offsite construction more regularly.
Lord Patel added: “The construction sector’s business models are no longer appropriate and are not supporting the UK’s urgent need for new homes and infrastructure.
“The construction sector needs to build more trust and create partnerships so that companies can work together to improve the uptake of off-site manufacture, and the Construction Leadership Council should provide.”
It found that the sector was dealing with trust issues between contractors, clients and designers – issues that the sector is desperately trying to address.
Commenting on the areas that need extra attention, Lord Patel said: “The role of the Government and the wider public sector is pivotal in a move to greater use of off-site manufacture.
The report sets out actions that the Committee thinks the Government should take including implementation of the Construction Sector Deal, committed execution of the ‘presumption in favour’ of off-site manufacture and a greater move to procuring for whole-life value rather than lowest cost.”
Further findings from the report include:
Skills: Offsite manufacture requires a variety of skills involving site implementation, digital understanding and how to handle procurement. As a result, the Government has said it will work to ensure young people entering the sector, will be fully equipped with skills needed for modern methods of construction
Housing demand: The committee found that in order for the Government to meet its target of 300,000 houses a year by 2030, offsite manufacture would need to be used. Traditional methods of construction does not have enough capacity to build the amount of homes needed.