19th March Newsletter

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SpaceHus – 20th March Journal Column

spacehus logo_CMYKBy Rob Charlton, Chief Executive of Space Group

In construction, it is amazing what we will accept. Our industry moves from boom to bust and then back to boom again with unbelievable pace.

During boom, businesses grow and make profit. In recession, some businesses cease trading whilst others burn cash, bidding for work at less than cost to survive. We then move into growth again and more companies go out of business as costs increase as trades try to recover losses from the past.

We very quickly forget the pain of the downturns. During recession we don’t invest in the future, due to lack of resource, and in the boom times we still don’t invest as we are too busy making money.

The same issues are raised periodically as we move across the boom and bust cycle. “We don’t train enough apprentices.” ”There is a skills shortage.” “Trades people are in short supply.” “We can’t get bricks because we closed the plants” and so on.

What I find exasperating is that this has been happening for 50 years and we never seem to change anything. We do like to moan about things but never do anything about it- typical British some might say!

If you want to something to change, you have to change something! Doing the same thing will always give you the same outcome. The challenge we have is that companies are making money again and it is difficult to break the cycle. House builders are making profits in excess of £350 million per year so why would they want to change the system?

At Space Group we are doing everything we can to break this cycle.

Spacehus is an example of how we can improve outcomes by rethinking the entire design and construction process. The result is a high quality house which costs £80,000 and by offsetting solar energy generation, there are no net energy costs.

The house was designed digitally, so it could be prototyped and tested virtually. We then manufactured the components offsite and assembled onsite. We minimised preliminaries and waste during construction so that additional value could be invested in the product.

If we generated a pipeline, profit would grow and we could invest in training and continuous improvement of the process and product.

We can only achieve these outcomes by rethinking the entire construction process from start to finish.

However we must want to change. From experience I find we have very short memories and much of our industry is happy with the status quo and mediocrity. We shouldn’t be. We should continue to challenge and be as disruptive as we can in order to find a better way.