August 17, 2018

Off-site, volumetric construction set to solve the housing crisis

There is no doubt that the UK is in the midst of a brutal housing crisis. The slow supply of housing to meet demand will be exacerbated by the reduction in labour that will surely accompany Brexit. If the market is to come anywhere near providing the target of 300,000 homes per year, there must be a significant shift in the way we produce buildings.

In a new whitepaper, Ackroyd Lowrie set out how this challenge can be met through offsite, volumetric construction. This modern method of construction allows high quality, bespoke housing projects to be delivered 30-60% quicker by building them in factories. In this method, windows, kitchens and even brickwork can be pre-installed on a production line, meaning that there is significantly less time and labour required on site.

Oliver Lowrie

To ensure that these factory-made buildings arrive on site exactly as intended, Ackroyd Lowrie have pioneered a Virtual Reality sign off process. This allows the client to walk around different versions of their future home in the latest VR headset. They can make changes to the design long before the 3D model is sent to the factory for production, and even longer before a single brick is laid.

Liz Peace CBE, Chair of the Old Oak and Park Development Corporation, one of London’s key regeneration bodies, said of the research: “The house building industry is not renowned for being particularly innovative but in offsite, volumetric housing we are confronted with something that could…revolutionise the way we build homes and make a significant dent in the housing numbers we so desperately need. As an industry, we cannot let this opportunity pass us by. This is why we need the call to arms the Ackroyd Lowrie White Paper offers – to inspire, to inform and most all to make things happen.”

Ackroyd Lowrie’s report explores the key benefits of modern offsite construction, including:

  1. Complete construction in days, not months – Offsite construction can save a great deal of time on site, which leads to financial savings for the client. The method can offer 30-60% time saving over traditional methods;
  2. Bespoke, high quality homes – Prefabricated homes gained a reputation for being repetitive and low quality due to those produced in the post-war period. However, modern factories can achieve bespoke designs using high quality materials;
  3. Fewer Defects – Because these homes are built in factory conditions, the quality and consistency of work can be higher;
  4. Collaborations with award winning architects – Advances in 3D computer modelling allow award winning architects to collaborate directly with the factories producing the homes to achieve contemporary, beautifully designed homes.

If the UK is to build 300,000 new homes each year, we simply can’t rely on government initiatives. Besides the obvious revenue opportunities for developers in the private rental space, there is the opportunity to really make an impact in an industry that is crying out for disruption.

Concluding the research, Oliver Lowrie said: “If there was any political will to solve the housing crisis, it would be by building faster. Offsite construction is objectively the fastest way to build and results in properties with fewer defects. Innovations in the industry mean that developers can create completely bespoke solutions for sites of all sizes, for clients with virtually any preferences.”