Overcoming the UK Housing Shortage with Modular Construction

Modular construction has seen a real surge of interest in 2016. As a modular manufacturer we are well aware of the benefits of modular construction, however this is still something which has taken and will continue to take time for people to realise its potential.

The UK housing shortage and how modular construction can assist has certainly been a serious talking point this year.

Education is a major factor in ensuring modular construction’s role in the shortage. Although off-site construction is increasing in popularity amongst developers there are many other key stakeholders to influence.

It is crucial to educate on the cost effective solutions that can be delivered by modular construction as well as a far more efficient construction programme, and it is important to highlight that off-site construction goes hand in hand with traditional construction, and is simply a more efficient way of building traditionally, assisting the on-site labour shortage.

There are many other hurdles to overcome as well as educating stakeholders, one of those being the provision of funding as well as the mortgageability of products which has recently been addressed with the introduction of BOPAS which Elements Europe is now a member.

We were recently asked by Build Offsite what the Mayor of London could do to assist in helping modular construction.

We feel that the Mayor could play a huge role in becoming an advocate for off-site construction. Firstly, he could help to raise awareness that off-site construction, not prefab, is a viable solution and smart way of building.

He could assist in funding perceptions by helping to provide security over land or assets to funders. This could be generated through planning, working with developers as well as registered providers. He could also encourage grants to developers as well as the manufacturer.

In addition to that he could put in place and promote apprenticeship schemes specifically for modular construction both from a labour, designs and project management prospective.
The Mayor could also ensure all substantial residential projects that have volume are earmarked as developments that are off-site projects only.

Off-site construction can offer a variety of solutions. It is particularly suited to PRS with its repetition of specification and product. It is also suited to multi storey residential development, for example our recent scheme with Essential Living on Creekside Wharf in Greenwich.

It is also suited to an urgent housing need as we have the ability to deliver quickly. Temporary forms of housing provision can also benefit, for example the need to house immigrants with semi-permanent accommodation.

We have the opportunity to grow to help meet the industry demands but it requires significant investment. As there are no public grants in the sector or any subsides for off-site construction, such grants would certainly assist in the development of off-site housing.

Elements Europe has invested between £10-15m over 11 years and has a 200,000 sq ft. production facility.