A new guide argues that modern methods of construction (MMC) are key to increasing the supply of affordable homes in the UK.
It includes a detailed section on mythbusting, highlighting common assumptions people make about MMC, such as a lack of quality, difficulty in securing finance, and confusion over contracts.
Shelagh Grant, chief executive of The Housing Forum, said: “The guide challengesthe myths surrounding procurement, contracts and costs, to help public sector organisations assess the business case for MMC, armed with accurate information.
“MMC will help the Government meet its commitment to deliver 300,000 homes a year, but also benefit affordable housing providers and its tenants. Using MMC effectively will future-proof housing supply. It leads to faster build times, minimises disruption to communities, and there are fewer defects, providing consistent quality and better as-built performance.”
Other benefits of MMC were highlighted within the report, including that it can offer more predictable thermal performance, improved cashflow and a reduction in the building’s maintenance costs.
Despite these benefits, barriers do exist. Compliance with the procurement regime was identified as one of the biggest issues preventing public sector organisations from adopting MMC. It clarifies that the public contracts regulations 2015 (often confused) can evaluate benefits including quality/price evaluation and ongoing maintenance costs.
Other sections within the guide include information on how to select the right form of MMC for a project. This ranges from finding the right design team to achieving a successful design, alongside tips on how to explain the project to key stakeholders such as clients and planners, and a checklist on what to look out for in the planning and design stages.
Mike Fairey, director at Fusion Building Systems, wrote the foreword to the guide. He said: “This is a comprehensive guide to the benefits MMC can deliver alongside the barriers stopping the concepts gaining traction.
“It was developed by a cross-industry working group, with experts from all areas of the supply chain represented, including architects, manufacturers, contractors, housing associations, trade bodies, and government. It was essential to get a rounded view to understand the issues fully.”
Jeff Endean, director at Cast Consultancy provided the keynote at a launch event for the guide, and discussed how the housing sector can take MMC forward.
“The emergence of MMC specific frameworks, alongside better understanding of delivery and contractual models, is already helping to create affordable and sustainable housing,” said Jeff.
“The next challenge will be to achieve this at scale. While there will be challenges, manufacturing is the future for the sector. With the support of the industry, MMC will become a mainstream housing choice.
“In order to achieve this, there needs to be more control over new build delivery. It will involve collaboration and innovation in how homes are designed and delivered across the housing association sector, as well as support from regulatory bodies feeding into the funding, insurance and warranty market.”
The report was launched to Housing Forum members at a breakfast briefing on 27 September at The Ivy, London. It included presentations from Robert Clark, Fusion Building Systems, Katie Saunders and David Cordery, Trowers & Hamlins, John Milner, Baily Garner, and Sanjiv Sangha, SH Group.
The full report “MMC for Affordable Housing Developers” can be downloaded via the Housing Forum’s website.