Industry experts share their thoughts following the publication of the House of Lords’ “Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change” report
The report from the House of Lords science and technology committee, suggests that off-site manufacture (OSM) offers solutions to several problems but also acknowledges that industry fragmentation is in the way.
The report recommends the creation of partnerships to improve the uptake of offsite manufacture and stronger leadership from the Construction Leadership Council. It sets out actions for Government and the wider public sector to facilitate greater use of offsite manufacture.
Eugene Lynch, Managing Director of The McAvoy Group, said: “The construction industry faces significant challenges – low productivity, poor performance in consistent delivery on time and on budget, a growing shortage of key skills and a lack of transparency relating to issues such as life cycle costing and project performance. We believe these issues can be addressed with the wider adoption of offsite construction technology, provided the barriers to change can be removed. We look forward to the Government’s response to this visionary and extremely well-informed report.”
McAvoy has called for:
- Further development of procurement frameworks which use offsite as a credible alternative to site-based construction
- Greater collaboration and the transparency of a long-term project pipeline across the public sector so manufacturers can plan strategically for investment and expansion decisions
- Public sector tenders that encourage offsite construction and reflect what is needed for offsite to maximise efficiency and potential, particularly where repeatable design is a dominant factor
- A commonality of processes and standards across the offsite sector.
Helen Andrews, Director of Construction at international law firm, Fieldfisher, said:
“OSM could certainly assist in solving the national housing shortage and, at the same time, deliver high-quality housing for the future.
“There will need to be support for manufacturers and encouragement for the house building sector to adopt as many methods of delivery as possible, as well as a shift in public opinion away from the perceptions of post-war prefabrication.
“OSM has enormous benefits to offer. The technology is there to produce sustainable, high-quality and technically savvy homes.
“Different sites require different solutions; some require more bespoke housing, while some are ideal for OSM. You often hear the expression “You wouldn’t build a car in the middle of a muddy field, why then do we continue to build houses in such conditions?”
Matthew Bool, construction partner at law firm Ashurst added: “The House of Lords’ Committee Report rightly recognises the importance of offsite manufacturing (OSM) to the future of the sector and to addressing the UK’s housing crisis but uptake of OSM depends on ensuring that there is sufficient infrastructure and trained personnel to develop and implement it. The commitment within the Construction Sector Deal to fostering innovation and skills is crucial to the success of OSM.”