Report addresses barriers to offsite in housebuilding

Cost remains the biggest barrier to uptake of offsite construction in housebuilding. That is the conclusion of a report for the Scottish government, which is aiming to extend the use of the construction approach.

The Scottish government’s sustainable housing strategy says it wants Scottish companies to maximise the potential of innovative design and construction techniques to deliver more green homes. Its greener homes innovation scheme is supporting the construction of 319 affordable homes, promoting greener and more modern methods of construction.

Trade body Homes for Scotland surveyed its members, who together deliver 95% of new homes built for sale in Scotland, to assess industry awareness, appetite and readiness surrounding alternative construction methods such as offsite manufactured systems.

It found improved quality, sustainability and speed of construction were drivers for an increase in the use of offsite construction. The report found no resistance to offsite construction in principle from home builders.  However, the strong perception that offsite construction is more expensive was found to be the biggest barrier.  Concerns were also expressed about control over programming and the capacity of the supply chain to sharply increase output.

The report makes a series of recommendations aimed at improving understanding of the approach and its costs, including the greater use of offsite construction in the Scottish government’s affordable housing programmes.

Homes for Scotland chief executive Philip Hogg said: “With the industry’s capacity to increase production in the wake of the economic downturn currently being hampered by shortages in both skills and traditional building materials, this report is very timely and provides a useful baseline from which to explore how the increased use of offsite construction could help overcome these challenges.

“However, any such ‘evolution’ must be demand-led and supported by a proven business case that also provides the flexibility the private sector require in delivering products to their customers.”

Minister for housing and welfare Margaret Burgess said: “We are committed to encouraging companies to utilise offsite modern methods of construction due to the number of potential benefits including economic and export opportunities.  That is why we commissioned Homes for Scotland to carry out this research and engage with industry to determine their level of interest in adopting these methods.

“We will work with the housing industry in Scotland to encourage them to look at these opportunities.  This report from Homes for Scotland showing private house builders’ perceptions represents an important step in mainstreaming these techniques.”

Click here to read the report, Research into mainstreaming offsite modern methods of construction (MMC) in house building.

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