Housebuilding in the UK is currently at an all-time low. It is predicted that a total of 250,000 homes need to be delivered each year in order to tackle spiralling house prices and the critical shortage of affordable homes. This target has constantly been missed – with figures showing that only 141,000 homes were constructed last year.
A substantial part of the problem is that housebuilders in possession of large sites often only release a small amount of homes at a time, as building at a slower pace allows them to maximise the value of their assets. As a result local authorities are now looking at reclaiming and managing the construction of new homes. Councils have largely been removed from housebuilding since the conservative government came into power in 1979, where private construction rose, but not by enough to compensate for the fall in public sector building.
So what have local authorities been doing all this time? Council advisors argue that they been exploring ways of getting back into housebuilding after decades of being removed. Both Labour and Liberal Democrats are arguing in support of the state to once again commission and build new homes. Nevertheless, the current Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, argues that they need to be cautious about the state getting involved in housebuilding – stating that the country must live within its means.
It is clear that if the state reclaims house building then cost effective methods of building will have to be utilised. Offsite construction provides the solution. Through the use of offsite construction, the government will be able to deliver houses at a lower cost and a rapid pace. Offsite construction has been around for decades, however, it is only now that its benefits are truly being recognised. It has been stated that a main factor holding up housebuilding in the short term, is a lack of materials. The surge in demand in late 2013 and early 2014 led to a decrease in availability of traditional materials such as bricks. This paved the way for prefabricated materials like timber and steel to be used in housebuilding.
There is an urgent need for a mass volume of houses to be constructed in a limited time scale and whether the state takes on housebuilding, or if it is left to private house builders, the benefits of offsite construction could be crucial to meeting targets that have repeatedly been missed. Offsite construction provides housebuilders with programme certainty and quality though simplification of site operations and reduced weather dependencies due to the controlled factory-based assembly process. Houses delivered through offsite construction offer enhanced specification standards and build quality which reduces occupancy costs related to energy use, defects and repairs. There is significant evidence that suggests that the use of offsite construction has been successful when applied to meet the needs of significant housing developments at scale with consequential opportunities for standardisation of design details – particularly to meet the need of government led programmes.
Explore Offsite is a series of events which take the form of combined conferences and exhibitions – creating a platform for construction clients, architects, engineers and contractors to come together and discuss the latest offsite solutions. The third in the series of Explore Offsite events has a focus on the housing sector. Taking place on 07 July 2015 in Birmingham, the event includes speakers from pioneering companies in the offsite construction industry. Speakers include: John Skivington, Director of LHC, Steve Wightman, Managing Director of Caledonian Modular, Nick Milestone, Managing Director of B & K Structures and Alex Smith, Hawkins Brown who will be discussing Banyan Wharf – the tallest timber building Europe, as well as Rory Bergin, HTA Design, speaking about Modular Buildings for the Private Rental Sector and Bryan Woodley, Val-U-Therm, sharing his experience in High Performance Building Envelope Design to Achieve PassivHaus Standards to name a few.
There is also a wealth of exhibitors who will be available to discuss their latest innovations in offsite construction. Exhibitors include companies such as Balcas, B & K structures, Caledonian Modular, Coillte Panel Products, Crown Timber, Keystone Group, Kingspan Timber Solutions, Metechno, Modularize, Senior Architectural Systems, Structural Timber Association and Val-U-Therm.
Tickets are just £95 +VAT.
Get 10% off your tickets with the early bird discount code: EXPLORE10
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