The Modern Methods of Construction report published this month by The Housing, Communities And Local Government Committee has warned that modern methods of construction (MMC) must be supported to help solve the housing crisis if government is to reach its target of 300,000 homes per year by the mid 2020s.
It calls for a range of innovations to be used alongside traditional building methods to allow for greater use of off-site construction, as well as on-going support.
Like self build, MMC has struggled with barriers that limit its growth, specifically a lack of understanding by the public, but also a lack of suitable finance and insurance products. But the report states that MMC needs to make a significant contribution to supplement traditional brick and block – awareness that can only have a positive knock-on for self and especially custom build, which includes a range of MMC methods, although the report failed to make the link between MMC and self/custom build.
This was highlighted in government’s 2017 Fixing our Broken Housing Market White Paper, which states:
Alongside smaller firms, the Government wants to support the growth of custom built homes. These enable people to choose the design and layout of their home, while a developer finds the site, secures planning permission and builds the property. Custom built homes are generally built more quickly and to a higher quality than other homes, and tend to use more productive, modern methods of construction. (Paragraph 3.14)
MMC is problematic in that, like self build, it spans such a wide range of construction methods and approaches, but the report highlights the need for more digital technology to be used that allows on-site, and not just off-site construction.
Key to future growth is compiling and maintaining data about the sector and the establishment of a single set of standards to support warranty providers, together with greater training opportunities. It stresses the need for building regulations to be updated to reflect the sector, as well as finance schemes for MMC and better access to land.
In addition, it recognises the issues that small-and-medium-enterprise companies have in accessing MMC, due to the costs of investing in infrastructure.
The committee’s chair Clive Betts said: “If the Government is to have any chance of meeting its target of 300,000 new homes a year it cannot simply rely on traditional methods of construction.
“They must make a serious effort to support the use of new and emerging technologies that have the potential to have a transformative impact on the speed, cost and quality of home building.”