Modular construction to shake up residential sector

31 May 2017

Constructing homes from pre-built elements could revolutionise the residential property sector, as the gap between demand and supply continues to grow.

With new technology making this process faster, cheaper and more accurate, Building Information Modeling (BIM) construction companies are beginning to compete with traditional housebuilders.

“We’ve shown there’s a demand for it, we’ve shown the quality is really good, and now it’s building the capacity,” said one BIM producer with a sold-out residential development in Manchester.

The UK government has given modular construction its support, following the publication of the Farmer report, dealing with the shortfall in residential property. The industry has to “modernise or die,” wrote author Mark Farmer, adding that innovation is a vital part of this modernisation.

“The housing crisis is about production capacity, and innovation is the most important piece in solving this,” wrote Farmer.

Although modular construction itself is not new – swathes of ‘pre-fab’ homes were built in the 1950s to replace those destroyed in World War II – the introduction of new materials, technology and logistical operations has made it far more competitive today. The introduction of 3D printed components to the construction process will bring further efficiency gains.

Insurance company Legal & General has entered the market, manufacturing 4,000 homes at a new factory in Leeds, Yorkshire. “We’re trying to push what you’re able to deliver, and we believe this can be a contributor to the housing supply gap in the UK,” said Nick Frankland, L&G chief executive.