It has become something of an unfunny joke to refer to the cold Ireland catches every time Britain sneezes, however, when it comes to the digital build movement and adoption of modern methods of construction (MMC), it is increasingly clear that Irish policy makers are following the path laid out by the UK Government. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it can be positive if done smartly, but we need for the Irish industry to become fast followers, to adopt what works and to learn from what does not work. 

Earlier this week in an article on UK industry resource website PBC Today, managing director of Solutions Asset Finance (SAF), Jane Tabiner, explains why the next 12 months will be such a critical time for modular builders and other MMC providers as the demand for better, faster, and more effective methods of delivering public sector projects increases. There are some insights shared that are equally applicable to the Irish marketplace; you can read the article in full here: https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/mmc-news/modular-building-providers/91404/

Similar to the situation in the UK, Ireland’s public sector is under extreme and unprecedented pressure right now. And not all of it is caused by the outbreak of Covid-19, however, the ongoing pandemic is certainly making pressure points more difficult to tackle. These pressure points are building up in the areas of social housing, healthcare facilities and education. 

Traditional construction methodologies simply cannot deliver the increased outputs required, within the timeframes required. In this respect, it is not surprising to see the public sector turn to offsite construction and other MMC to deliver. 

The expert team at Horizon Offsite have been working on delivering a series of rapid-build healthcare, education and social housing projects over the past 13 months and this pipeline of work is increasing rather than decreasing. Of course, all of these areas were struggling to cope prior to the pandemic and the ever-increasing demands for housing – not to mention the changing demands of schools in order to ensure student safety and the gargantuan effort to keep healthcare facilities open and functioning – are creating a perfect storm for the current Government. Department budgets have crumbled and every spending request before the Department of Finance is now an urgent priority. Frankly, it is still too early to understand how the pandemic will impact capital spending over the next decade, however, looking at international trends, it is predicted that public needs in the area of healthcare will continue to increase beyond 2021. With capital budgets already under pressure, the public sector projects that are urgently required will need to be delivered quicker than ever before, as cost-effectively and as predictably as possible. What the industry was aiming towards in terms of best practice over the coming decade has now become the urgently demanded standard. Unfortunately, there still exists a funding gap that will need to be addressed. 

As the PBC Today article points out, “offsite construction unlocks many benefits for both public and private sector companies, offering a quick and cost-effective way to build sought-after new facilities that will go towards serving communities. It requires limited time on site for installation, which means minimal disruption… the time for investing in new facilities is now. Moving forward, public sector bodies must consider engaging with offsite or modular building providers to source progressive solutions to their ongoing capacity issues. For the above to be attainable, both modular building providers and public sector bodies need to be able to access the funds required to finance the creation of these new facilities”. 

Collaboration between MMC providers, funders and clients will accelerate industry innovation, scaling of manufacturing facilities and the delivery of essential offsite projects. The pandemic has furthered the transformation of the industry to a greater extent than expected, now funding and procurement systems must transform to keep pace.

About Horizon Offsite

Horizon Offsite Ltd is one of Europe’s leading players in Offsite Construction and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), providing a fully accredited structural light gauge steel system to the residential, industrial, commercial, healthcare and educational sectors. Contact the Horizon Offsite team at https://horizonoffsite.ie