21st April Journal Article

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

By now we should all be aware of offsite construction, but for those of you that aren’t, offsite construction is a modern way of building that sees the unit being constructed offsite in a factory-controlled environment. The building is then delivered to the site where the ground works and foundations will have been prepared.

Last year, the Construction Leadership Council commissioned Mark Farmer to undertake a review of the UK’s construction labour model. The report stated that pre-fab housing is the way forward when it comes to producing more affordable homes to regenerate the property market, and I couldn’t agree more.  

Earlier this month, H+H UK Ltd and SIG Offsite launched i-house, a new house building system which sees homes built in just five days. The system provides all the speed of offsite construction with the familiarity of a traditional build, going from foundations to roof in five short days.

The system can encompass the inner leaves of external cavity walls, floors, lintel, cavity closers, insulation and roof trusses. With the inclusion of soffit and fascia, it delivers the internal skin of a property, fully wrapped and ready for follow-on trades. It really can do it all, with only one contactor required to deliver the whole house shell. It can be used on the construction of domestic houses of up to two storey height, replacing the structure of the inner leaf of external cavity walls, separating walls and internal partitions with storey height Celcon Elements. They are Installed by the SIG Offsite team and Celcon Elements are craned into place and fixed using H+H element mortar.

Off-site construction has many benefits compared to traditional build; it is safer, more efficient and has the potential to greatly minimise on-site waste. With many offsite projects all happening under the same roof, it also means it’s easier to take inventory of leftover materials and use them on other projects, as opposed to other methods where surplus would be dumped in the recycle bin. This is a much better way of preventing waste and reducing unnecessary costs.

This method of construction now widely used in the housing and education sector and it could be just what we’re looking for when it comes to how we ease the housing crisis in the UK.

‘Prefabs’ are now a strong, reliable way of building homes, a complete 360 degree from the 1940s when cheap, flimsy units were built to address the home shortage. Regardless of the quality, pre-fabricated homes helped solve the crisis back then, so there’s nothing stopping them working now.  Reuters has reported that housebuilders including Berkeley, Taylor Wimpey, and Persimmon have said they are either considering or planning new developments of prefabricated homes. Who knows, in a few years, traditional builds might all be a thing of the past.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.