Changes galore – that’s what the UK Construction and housing market has seen in the past critical few years. The effects of Brexit, the pandemic and economic policies have resulted in increased demands on the UK housing market to adapt, adopt new concepts and create results. What the UK housing industry needs is more choice and improved quality homes, with an emphasis on safety. That means embracing modular building design or Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).
Contributions from the UK construction sector represent 8% of the GDP and 9% of employment opportunities in the UK’s economy, where approximately £150 billion is invested through the public and private sectors annually.
To help with some of the challenges that result, in 2018, the UK government, along with the Construction Leadership Council, decided to allocate more than £400 million for the transformation of the industry.
This special industry deal is based on 3 principles:
- Digitisation – using digital technologies to deliver improved, more certain outcomes
- Manufacturing – increasing manufacturing to improve productivity, quality and safety
- Performance – using energy-efficient assets to optimise the performance of a housing project throughout its entire life cycle
These basic principles are to be applied in 5 key parameters:
- Concepts – how and where to invest in the development of digital, manufacturing-based construction methods
- Personnel – transforming recruitment and training to interest, retain and improve the skills of industry professionals for what the industry requires
- Infrastructure – furthering the investment detailed in the National Infrastructure and Construction directives
- Business ethos – cementing the UK as a global infrastructure delivery leader by creating a sustainable business model for construction
- Locations – strengthening the supply chain and industry skills across the UK
These principles and parameters can be developed using MMC, introducing a considerable difference in construction workflows. One of the mainstays of MMC is Modular Construction and the design for modular construction.
The lack of affordable, safe and aesthetically pleasing housing in the UK can be somewhat alleviated by using modular construction. This type of construction results in the design and construction of pre-built homes that are of high quality and built quickly.
Some of the causes of construction delay include a paucity of skilled labour and weather that adversely affects the quality and speed of on-site construction. Modular housing provides a viable solution to these conditions. A controlled off-site factory environment minimises risk, includes a faster workflow, high levels of quality control and the strict adherence to performance standards. Modular homes can be designed to the satisfaction of both occupants and the environment with energy-efficient features and reduced construction time. These factors make modular housing an increasingly popular venture.
Using MMC, or modular methods of construction, in the UK heralds a new era of post-Brexit opportunity and well-being, with a view to opening up the UK’s true regional economic potential.
Using unique methods and simple planning, MMC is a pioneering solution to the challenges of the housing sector. By completing projects faster, more efficiently and with considerably reduced environmental effects, MMC helps deliver projects across the UK in their entirety, right from concept design to complete construction.
The future of the housing construction industry will see:
- Digitally designed houses, where computer codes will feed directly to the production department during manufacture
- Advanced and improved automation and assembly-line production techniques
When businesses creating modular units receive large orders, they are in a better position to plan workflows and price competitively. This is why MMC works well in the UK:
- MMC can be a long-term, large-scale alternative for social housing, owning homes, building homes for rent and for sale.
- By considering safety, environmental requirements, standards of quality, cost reduction and low energy billing, modular homes can be designed for the needs of modern customers.
- MMC projects can help build new green homes using advanced technology.
- People living in these ‘green modular homes’ can save up to 70% of their heating bills.
How MMC Works to Create Homes for the Future
- Adapting the method of construction to MMC can help achieve the climate change target of going net zero by 2050.
- MMC’s precise design helps meet ‘A’-rated energy efficiency standards.
- MMC improves energy performance, creates less waste and generates less pollution during construction.
- MMC helps create ‘green’ homes with low-to-no energy bills.
As a modern career choice, MMC features can restructure the process of homebuilding, encouraging local communities to seek new employees and hire a diverse, local work force.
- New young talent will be attracted to the industry.
- Traditional workers can learn new skills in jobs with better pay, improved working conditions and career progress.
- Employees can move from working the production shop floor, to the design office or work on site, assembling modules.
Some of the benefits of using MMC include:
- Steel frame buildings of light gauge, used extensively in modular construction, result in 30% cost savings compared to traditional methods of construction.
- Using light gauge steel frames means the need for foundations is eliminated.
- With limited groundwork and no concrete pad, strong, durable homes rest on industrial screw piles before being triple boarded, weather wrapped, insulated, bonded and clad.
- In addition to modular methods, each house frame can be 3D printed in sections at factories using advanced technology and saving time.
- Using low-impact transport, these sections are brought to the construction site and locked together in less than a day.
- For large projects, these methods guarantee a faster build process.
Efficiency in Sustainability & Energy
- As MMC homes have an EPC rating of A, according to Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP), such homes will be given SAP scores of 100 or more.
- This is a building standards of high energy efficiency, reducing power bills and improving acoustic insulation.
Minimising Environmental Impact
Typically, the construction sector creates increased carbon emissions. Using MMC results in a fraction of the environment impact that traditional build methods generate.
Making last-minute changes to design is simple, as using a light gauge steel frame in MMC is easily adaptable,
- Though they are called light gauge steel frames, they have the strength and endurance of steel.
- Whether they are steel frames or other equally strong material, when sections are locked together to form rooms or entire houses, they are strong and have an expected life span of hundreds of years.
A Pocket of Innovation
Pocket homes, or affordable, small one-bedroom homes, turned out to be an important addition to the London cityscape. Pocket homes help thousands of young, middle-income Londoners be able to afford to buy their first home. These homes, primarily developed through modular construction, were first created for local first-time buyers with limited incomes to own their own space in the city, where they live and work. Owning a pocket home means people can avoid high rents without any real compromise on their living spaces.
Companies strive to build aesthetically pleasing, unique homes using modular construction, rather than the bland, boring homes they are generally perceived to be. Benefits of such homes include:
- Fast construction
- High-quality workmanship
- Environmentally preferable for cost-conscious, socially responsible buyers
- 80% reduction in construction waste (with 95% of waste generated being recycled)
- 80% reduction in vehicular movement to the site, leading to reduced noise, dust and transport-related emissions
- 50% less carbon dioxide produced during construction
Pocket homes have now spread to more than half of London’s boroughs and has helped first-time buyers own a home near their place of employment.
Modular building design, thus, has much to contribute to the UK housing market, yet it requires the expertise and experience of technically well-qualified professionals to provide high-quality fabrication drawing services and modular construction drawings. With Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and Building Information Modelling (BIM) processes also becoming part of the housing design fray, it becomes pertinent to find certified service providers to develop precise DfMA modelling and drawing and prefabricated construction BIM services.
XS CAD has valuable experience providing drawings for modular construction and modular building design services for general contractors and design consultants. Our range of services for building design firms across the world include DfMA modelling and drawings, fabrication drawing services, prefabricated construction BIM and modular construction drawing services. We create these models and drawings by using Revit, AutoCAD and BIM Collaborate Pro for cloud collaboration.
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