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Offsite construction can help meet high demand for new buildings

A new report is encouraging specifiers to accelerate uptake of offsite construction techniques, particularly when it comes to building services.

 

Pressure for more new build homes and major construction projects is growing across the UK. The government is currently falling short of its annual target to build 300,000 new homes in England, while 90% of student accommodation rooms for the 2023/24 academic year had already been sold by April 2023.


With a 17% increase in hotel construction projects also reported over 2024, pressure is on the construction sector to build faster as confidence in city centre building continues to rise.


Construction worker undertaking offsite construction technique

A new report from REHAU, Offsite Trends in Building Services, explores how modern methods of construction (MMC) can help tackle this issue. While underlining an expected skills shortage of 937,000 construction industry vacancies by 2032, it looks specifically at how implementing mechanical service installation into offsite projects can help builds be completed easier and faster.

Given that the UK’s urban population has grown by 15.4 million since 1960 and maintained a year-on-year upward trajectory, the need to quickly build high-quality housing is becoming more and more pressing.


The Government has moved to address this issue by easing residential planning permissions in these high-density areas, while reaffirming its commitment to deliver 300,000 new homes every year by the mid2020s.


Alongside this, several policies and schemes exist to boost housing construction and combat existing shortfalls. But with city centre projects often hampered by space restrictions, achieving this will be extremely challenging,

 

Building in tight spaces

With high-rise construction increasingly necessary in high-density urban areas, REHAU’s guide highlights how the company can help with the challenge of building at height in smaller spaces. At the same time, it uncovers obstacles that contractors, specifiers and developers must overcome when using offsite construction methods to ensure quality work.


Steve Richmond, Head of Marketing and Technical at REHAU Building Solutions, says: “Building at pace within tight footprints and using traditional methods is undoubtedly difficult, necessitating new approaches such as MMC. This new report details what is possible and how different offsite methods can suit specific projects and help provide simpler, faster and high-quality builds, all within a factory-controlled environment.”


The guide also includes information on how key components can be assembled at the factory and transported and assembled onsite for a high-quality build. This includes modular shafts, pre-wall constructions, bathroom pods and polymer risers, as well as relatively new technologies such as thermally activated building structures (TABS), which can provide both heating and cooling.


“There have already been many exciting innovations across the globe to further improve offsite construction methods that we have included within this new guide,” Steve concludes. “Like all fields, MMC is continually developing, and the hope is that through this whitepaper, readers can find out more about these innovative methods and solutions, and best put MMC techniques into practice to meet market demand.”



Longer-lasting structures

Recent improvements in MMC technology means today’s builds are much longer-lasting than older prefabricated housing from the 1950s and 1960s that were built during the last modular boom.

MMC is a mature industry in Europe, but new innovations and technologies are constantly under development to ensure best products and practice. Multiple recent trends have emerged in the market that will impact how M&E contractors will approach offsite construction projects in the future, with specifiers needing to understand how these changing technologies will affect their own designs and workloads. It is vital all stakeholders are aware of these advances, so they are more able to swiftly complete high-quality and replicable housing, student accommodation and hotel projects.


The report can be downloaded online at www.rehau.com

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