According to Group Managing Director at Stewart Milne Timber System, Alex Goodfellow, affordable housing could be built faster by local authorities and housing associations, if priority is given to offsite construction.
The UK Government advocated partnerships between housing associations, private contractors and local authorities through the Affordable Homes Programme 2015-2018. The Programme encourages the building of more affordable housing, while maximising cost efficiencies in the construction of new houses.
In the light of this, offsite construction and other innovative forms of construction increase the speed of building. They produce less waste and are more cost effective overall, thus representing the most valuable options for providers.
Yet, as Goodfellow points out, this needs to be improved further, and more attention should be given to the lifecycle-cost benefits of offsite construction. In fact, money could be saved by social housing providers and local authorities through the offsite manufacturing of certain elements of new housing stock.
Quoting Goodfellow, “Items such as timber systems and bathroom pods can be manufactured offsite – which means more efficient builds with lower ongoing costs. This would allow affordable housing providers to develop future-proof, sustainable housing stock quickly and cost effectively.”
The most effective method to obtain such results would be having energy efficiency built into the home through what is called a ‘fabric first’ approach.
“Homes which are intrinsically energy efficient – because they have been built with efficiency in mind – result in fewer repair bills and lower energy costs. Offsite construction also means the build process is a great deal quicker, so getting tenants in and rent payments established happens faster” said Goodfellow.
Offsite construction could be a way of alleviating the significant shortfall in housing supply that the UK is currently facing. This hopefully would mean more work for contractors, but, with housing being built in different sites, it would also mean contractors should pay attention to organisation and communication.
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