More than half of housebuilders say the role of modern methods of construction (MMC) will remain static over the next three years, despite the high demand for new housing.
Some 51% of respondents to a survey by the NHBC Foundation, which spoke to 135 housebuilders and housing associations, said they expected no growth in MMC or offsite manufacturing, and 3% believe it will decline. However, 45% anticipated an increase in the role of MMC.
Modern Methods of Construction: Views from the Industry explored attitudes towards MMC in the housebuilding sector. It identified the degree to which different methods and systems have been adopted and assesses the appetite for more extensive application of specific approaches.
The main attraction for all the housebuilders surveyed for adopting new methods of construction is the perceived ability to build more quickly and at lower cost. Of the large and medium-sized house builders and housing associations surveyed, only two said they had not used or considered at least one form of MMC in the last three years.
The most used methods are sub-assemblies and components, such as roof cassettes or door sets, installed by about three-quarters of the house builders and just under half of the housing associations in 2015.
The majority of organisations surveyed considered themselves to be “late adopters” or “followers” of volumetric construction, pod and panelised forms of MMC – rather than “market leaders”.
Neil Smith, head of research and innovation at NHBC, said: “This report shows the high hopes invested in MMC, as a means of delivering transformational change to the house-building industry, have not yet been realised on the scale anticipated by its champions.”
The skills shortage is a major barrier to the offsite and MMC sector, Oliver Novakovic, technical and innovation director at Barratt Developments, told CM recently. “I’ve been in offsite for more then 20 years, so this is the third cycle I’ve seen, and I think the skills constraints and shortage we have now is more profound then ever before,” he said.