Exploring offsite potential

CIH’s Housing conference and exhibition returns to Manchester Central from 26 – 28 June, with a focus on the potential of offsite construction.

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual Housing show is Europe’s largest gathering of housing professionals, offer- ing the perfect opportunity for networking. A range of seminars and conferences featuring industry experts will provide you with the latest information on all aspects of housing.

The show’s ‘alternative’ theatre The Fringe will play host to sessions that ask the difficult questions, while new event TECH@Housing will run alongside the show where you can discover the latest in technologies. Over 300 exhibitors will also be on display.

In partnership with NHBC and Trowers & Hamlins, Housing 2018 will be showcasing offsite over the three days, with live offsite builds on display with ilke Homes, CHIC and Premier Modular. Housing 2018’s Sarah Payling, Homes England’s Stephen Kinsella and the MHCLG’s Andy von Bradsky explain why “the time for offsite is now”.

Event director Sarah Payling comments:

“We are on a journey which some say we have been on before. I did eight years in offsite media from 2000 to 2008 and I spent a lot of my time on John Prescott’s £60k house project – and here we are again. Some of you may remember in 2005 there was a sustainable communities summit that took place at the GMEX, now Manchester Central. For all those that came along we witnessed Blair, Brown, Prescott and about five modular house builds. Now, 13 years on, these homes have changed but we still have a housing crisis. I think we can all agree the time is now for offsite construction.”

“On only my second day in this job, I hosted an offsite walking tour around the exhibition hall of Housing 2017 in Manchester. The micro- phone wasn’t working properly so I had to shout to be heard, which perhaps symbolises where we were at that time and how quickly things seems to be changing.

Stephen Kinsella, executive director of land at Homes England says:

“In the last few months, there have been several notable offsite develop- ments. As part of the Autumn Budget, the Government gave a massive boost to offsite by stating that modern methods of construction (MMC) would be favoured for public infrastruc- ture schemes from 2019. Closer to home, our deal to sell land to the Berkeley Group to build an offsite factory in Ebbsfleet made the national news and there have been similar announce- ments from the housing sector from the likes of Accord and Swan.

“It certainly feels like momentum is build- ing. At Homes England, we see the expansion of offsite construction as absolutely crucial in getting the increase in numbers we need to build 300,000 homes a year. Simply put, there isn’t the capacity in the industry to build 300,000 homes through traditional methods. So, we intend to be much more actively involved in offsite and we will use our land and finance to help scale it up. You will see us doing further land deals with MMC included in schemes. But we need our housebuilder partners to work with us and they’re telling us they cannot easily shift their businesses from traditional to offsite construction – even those who are convinced of the benefits.”

Andy von Bradsky, design and quality consultant for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says:

“The Government recognises that in order to meet its commitment to increase the supply of new homes we need a modern construction industry with the techniques to build to scale, volume and speed of supply. Building more homes using MMC, including offsite and smart techniques, is a key part of this. The Secretary of State has made it clear that quality is as impor- tant as the quantity of new homes. Manufacturing homes in closely monitored factory conditions can deliver improved quality to a consistent standard. Greater investment in time earlier in the design, manufacture and assembly process can lead to faster delivery onsite.

“We know use of MMC across the housing market is increasing, particularly where pace of delivery and investment over the long term are key factors in the business model. Other sectors are making greater use of pre-assembled components. Some are embracing the opportunities offered by digital technology to customise layouts, fittings and finishes.

“There are challenges such as ensuring certainty of supply proportionate to the scale of investment, reducing costs compared to traditional methods, ensuring we deliver well designed, attractive places, securing mortgage finance and training a new diverse workforce with the necessary skills.

“The Government is putting measures in place that are aimed at transforming a developing market into one that contributes positively to mainstream supply.”