New pressures on the construction industry are being implemented by UK government to maintain quality at lower cost, with less impact on the environment. Key targets have been set for 2025 including 33% lower costs, 50% less emissions, 50% faster delivery and 50% improvement in exports.

To help achieve these targets, there needs to be significant improvements in the way projects are delivered. HM Government Capital Delivery Projects Framework analysis shows 30% of these are due to poor productivity, lack of materials, lack of design information and man power. Modular construction offers benefits which address these challenges and is becoming more popular.

Proven to be 30-50% faster than traditional construction, each module is manufactured and assembled in factories before being transported to site. The majority of the build process occurs in a set timeframe, is sheltered from the elements and ultimately means weather delays are no longer a factor. The site preparation can also commence during the same period which results in a significantly reduced construction programme.

Higher build quality is also achieved within the factory environment, where tight tolerances and quality control are top priorities. Traditionally, where large quantities of materials are delivered to site and many workers bring them together, often in difficult conditions, there is typically more waste, complex timelines and inefficiencies. Workers in the factory have the benefit of a sheltered environment, with all tools and equipment available. In addition, stored materials suffer less in a sheltered environment and results in better built structures.

Repetitive production techniques common with assembly line manufacturing means less energy is consumed compared with traditional construction. Up to 67% less energy is required to produce a modular building than a traditionally constructed one (Source: Arup Research and Development). On site factory waste is mostly reused rather than discarded. Off-site construction generates up to 90% less waste than site-based building methods (Source: WRAP). Every year, approximately 100 million tonnes of construction waste is created, with much of that ending up as landfill. Reduced noise, dust, emissions and disruption on site and more space gained without the need to store materials are also added benefits. There are up to 90% fewer vehicle movements on site than traditional construction projects (Source: Mtech). This all contributes towards more sustainable construction which is ultimately better for the environment.

Parmarbrook are currently working alongside Pocket Living; a private developer of compact ‘Pocket’ homes, as Civil and Structural Engineers to deliver 4 affordable housing projects in London, two of which will utilise modular construction – Whiting Avenue and Addiscombe Road (22 storeys). With modular construction becoming more popular, we are advancing our knowledge of this sector and hope to advise current and future clients on how they can benefit from a more efficient and sustainable type of construction.

Addiscombe Grove, Croydon – Pocket Living