At its Annual Lunch on 17 November, with Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell MP as keynote speaker, the BSA launched a progressive housing report; ‘Laying the foundations for Modern Methods of Construction’ (MMC). The report explores the addition of this form of housebuilding, particularly offsite construction, into the mainstream repertoire of the UK housing industry: housebuilders, mortgage lenders, surveyors and general insurers. At scale it offers one way of easing the UK’s housing crisis, which is primarily caused by a lack of housing supply.
The UK has consistently underbuilt for many years and the current contribution falls short of the Government target of 200,000 new homes a year. Utilising offsite construction methods offers a way of providing well designed, high quality, affordable homes at a faster rate than is currently possible. If the UK doesn’t diversify its housing supply, the imbalance between supply and demand cannot practically be broken.
The report’s ten recommendations include:
- Government has the chance to nurture this small but growing industry by leading the way on its own developments, such as Northstowe near Cambridge; and act as the catalyst to bring the housing industry together to allow innovative building technologies to reach critical mass.
- The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors should produce guidance for its members through its Valuation Professional Standards. This specifies the standard approach that valuers should take when providing a valuation for mortgage purposes.
- To help valuers and lenders understand the multiple different systems of MMC available, terminology and systems should be standardised and more information provided through an online hub.
- A programme is needed to improve the image of these modern properties: Robust, visually impressive and cheaper to run than their traditionally built counterparts – today’s offsite offerings are a world apart from the flimsy prefabs of post-war Britain.
Dick Jenkins, BSA Chairman, commented: ”We have to explore radical solutions to solve the housing crisis. To get there we rely on Government to lead the way and break the cycle in relation to new construction technologies. At present supply is so low that lenders can’t routinely lend on these properties because they don’t fully understand the risks, and builders won’t build more of this type of home because mortgage lending is in limited supply as is home insurance.
"For the sake of consumers, these types of building technology must become as conventional and mainstream as brick and block has been for the past 100 years. If we do this it could be a game-changer.”
Gavin Barwell MP, Housing and Planning Minister said: "I welcome this timely report on boosting the use of innovative construction methods, with things like offsite construction providing a huge opportunity to increase housing supply.
"The £3 billion Home Building Fund will help build more than 225,000 new homes and provide loans for small firms. custom builders, offsite construction and essential infrastructure, creating thousands of new jobs in the process."
Richard Bacon MP, Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group on Self-Build, Custom and Community Housebuilding and Placemaking said: "Although there are numerous Government schemes to help First-Time Buyers buying their first property, we have not cracked the problem surrounding housing in the UK – it spreads across all tenures. If we are to produce enough houses, we need big changes.
“The introduction of off-site construction using the latest technology – known as Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) – will make a big difference. This area has seen huge changes in recent years. Bespoke houses which cost almost nothing to heat and that are made-to-measure for each customer, configured on a laptop and then delivered within weeks – erected on serviced plots with the broadband, water, electricity and gas already in place – are a reality now, but not yet at scale.
“Buyer demand is already growing and will grow further as MMC becomes a conventional choice, adding an effective additional measure to tackle the Housing crisis.”
Advocating MMC, George Clarke, architect and presenter of Channel 4’s ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ commented: "The future of mass housebuilding in the U.K. relies on a combination of creative design with advanced and innovative building technologies. The house building industry is still stuck in the dark ages compared with other industries such as the automotive industry, the aviation industry and telecommunications. Offsite home manufacturing is the only way we are going to build the number of homes we need, that are affordable and of a quality that is acceptable for future generations.”
Notes to Editors:
- The report can be downloaded here.
- A copy of the speech made by Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing, Planning and Minister for London at the BSA Annual Lunch can be found here:
- A copy of the speech made by BSA Chairman, Dick Jenkins can be found here:
Hilary McVitty, Head of External Affairs, BSA Hilary.McVitty@bsa.org.uk 0207 520 5926