Report backs further moves towards off-site construction

23 July 2018

An important House of Lords report has backed greater use of offsite construction (OSM), declaring that the UK construction sector’s business models are “no longer appropriate”.

The Building for Change report – published by the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee – challenges the Government to set out what conditions it will attach to the extra financial support for housing to drive the uptake of off-site manufacture and other innovative technologies.

It also recommends that a series of Key Performance Indicators be introduced against which to measure the success of the Government’s Construction Sector Deal “presumption in favour” of OSM.

“Where the presumption in favour is set aside and a project goes ahead that does not use off-site manufacture, the Government should publish a statement explaining why it has not been used and justifying that decision,” the report says.

The report also says the UK already lags behind other countries in construction productivity and is facing a labour shortage, so the Government and the construction sector must urgently find solutions.

The report says OSM can help to increase productivity in the construction sector while reducing labour demands, improving the quality and efficiency of buildings, and reducing the environmental impacts associated with traditional construction.

However, take up of OSM is varied because it is working with out-dated and unsustainable business models. “These barriers must be addressed by the sector itself and strong leadership is needed from the Construction Leadership Council.”

“There are clear and tangible benefits from off-site manufacture for construction which make a compelling case for its widespread use,” said chairman of the Committee, Lord Patel.

The Structural Timber Association (STA) has declared its full support for the offsite manufacture for construction.

“We unreservedly support the government's pledge for the presumption for offsite,” said Andrew Carpenter Chief Executive of the STA.

“One of the report's key recommendations was that the government should promote the use of pre-manufactured solutions through policy measures, so in theory there is a lot of positive content in this Lords Committee report but there are some barriers to overcome.”