Listening to several thought leaders within the building product and offsite technologies sector of late, I have been incredibly keen to better understand what the market's resistance has been to adopting prefabricated, offsite manufacturing.
Much has been reported on the advantages to employing this form of manufacturing. Until recently I have been a little perplexed as to why less than 7% of building work is completed using this pre-assembled manner.
Last week I held a fascinating conversation during a CPD site tour with a senior offsite consultant who pointed towards consulting engineers reluctance in promoting the technology (more of this to come).
I have read RIBA's recent drive in promoting offsite among architects, through its partnership with the Offsite Management School. Within a combined paper they are encouraging architects to engage with such solutions using Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) techniques.
Such drives will unfortunately, fall on deaf ears if mortgage companies are not willing to lend. With a lack of industry standard, or recognised kite mark scheme, mortgage lenders are unlikely to commit significant investment into it. One big question being asked is "we understand the immediate advantages now, but will the fabric of the building still be around in 25 years time." This, in my opinion, is somewhat unfair given the amount of precision engineering that goes into constructing these factory-built structures.
An opportunity for a recognised authority or assurance scheme then maybe? Affordable housing is desperately needed and offsite plainly (and dramatically) drives down costs.
An ‘industry-wide guarantee’ would bring the whole of the mortgage market on board with prefabricated ‘modular’ homes constructed offsite, says Legal & General Surveying Services. Yesterday Mortgage Introducer revealed that the majority of mortgage lenders aren’t convinced that ‘modular’ homes are safe enough to lend on. But a spokesman for Legal & General, which owns a modular housing factory capable of building 3,000 homes per year in Leeds, thinks a certificate of quality would get the big boys on board.