Modern Methods of Construction

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

UK Construction Week, the UK’s largest built environment event, takes place next month, with one of the themes being Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

MMC is transforming the way homes and commercial properties are built. A variety of new approaches are being adopted across the industry, including timber frames; whole wall panels, which can be supplied with windows, insulation and external cladding; and volumetric or modular construction, where pods or modules that could be anything from a bathroom to half a house are supplied ready-made. MMC is a much faster method than the traditional method of bricks and mortar and is essentially taking construction processes away from the building site. As modular homes are manufactured in a factory using MMC the accuracy, quality and performance of each build can be assured ensuring that standards are maintained, reducing the risk of mistakes and waste whilst also potentially providing safer working environments.

A recent report into the family homelessness crisis estimated that there could be more than 210,000 homeless children in England due to the lack of social housing.  The statistic is shocking and incredibly sad but maybe the shock is needed to prove why we need to increase house building to meet demand. Last year, the industry built just under 150,000 new homes, nowhere near enough to get all those children into a home. While it might not be possible to increase the number of new builds by enough, there are other solutions and MMC is one of them. It’s the ideal solution to quick, cost effective and good quality housing.

UK Construction Week will display the latest advancements in MMC and how they’re improving productivity and quality whilst lowering costs. A number of full-scale MMC-built structures will be on display at the show including a modular care annex for the healthcare sector, a SIPS panel residential building, a modular bathroom pod for the high-end hotel sector, and offsite solutions for the education sector.

We’ve been using modular off-site construction methods for a few years now in the North East and we are really reaping the benefits. Modular units were installed at the Gateshead Innovation Village and the regeneration of Smith’s Dock included a high proportion of modular homes manufactured offsite. We’re also ahead of the game in terms of digital MMC – NBS recently used augmented reality in their Future Building exhibition, allowing visitors to scan buildings on a wall and explore a 360-degree model on screen.

The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model said, we must ‘modernise or die’ and digital technology is at the top of its game, with 3D printing, apps, robots and drones to name a few, helping us carry out day to day tasks. In the past, we’ve had a reputation for being slow to adapt to the digital age, but over recent years, the smart building tech industry has grown significantly with more companies accepting technology.

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.