News emerged from the UK over the past week about a £1.1 billion “procurement solution” being implemented to effectively unlock offsite housing. Constructing Modern Methods (CMM) and the South West Procurement Alliance (SWPA) has launched this solution to help tackle the housing crisis. While this is an issue for almost all local authorities across both Ireland and the UK, social housing for the West and South West of England now represents the fastest growing area of construction, according to an article posted on PCB Today: https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/mmc-news/offsite-housing-procurement/90655/ 

As well documented here through the Horizon Offsite team, the use of offsite construction methodologies holds the key to delivering high-quality, low-carbon housing at scale for both the public and the private sector. This was true prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, however, since the impact of the pandemic and subsequent construction industry lockdowns began to translate into significant drops in housing delivery, this opportunity is now a necessity. But it is not quite as easy as developers and project owners opting for a more innovative approach to housing delivery. There is a level of upskilling that is likely to be beyond most of the supply chain of traditional construction. For this reason, it is crucial to speak to an expert team as early as possible into the process. We recently looked at the value of experience when exploring offsite and other modern methods of construction, including tips to ensure that inexperienced MMC projects owners avoid making the same mistakes as their predecessors: https://horizonoffsite.ie/offsite-construction-understanding-the-value-of-experience/

The PCB Today article linked to above points out that there are indeed challenges involved in unlocking more innovative types of construction, however, this is not a good reason to resist embracing emerging technologies in this sector. Rather, it is a reason for the State to tackle some of these challenges and work to create the right procurement processes that will enable a more contemporary and sustainable approach to housing delivery, quickly and more cost-efficiently. The solution referenced above – which is backed by Innovate UK and co-developed in partnership with YTKO, the Bristol Housing Festival, Bristol City Council and nine modular housing providers – is to build a database to allow local authorities analyse the marketplace and define project requirement, prior to procuring, through a dynamic purchasing system. This will help local authorities that might wish to embrace MMC but have no idea where to start, to get started through access to expertise. The size of the procurement DPS is expected to exceed £1.1 billion of MMC housing delivery over the next eight years. This is the kind of proactive thinking we need in Ireland right now and it will be interesting to see if a similar approach is adopted here in the coming years.

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