Modern construction methods needed to solve housing crisis, MPs warn

Modular homes in North Action. Credit: David Hawgood (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The government must embrace modern construction methods if the UK’s housing crisis is to be solved, MPs have warned.

The housing, communities and local government committee said that an over-reliance on traditional building techniques could see the UK fall way short of its target of building 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s.

In a new report, the committee has urged the government to support the use of modern methods of construction, such as using new materials, digital working and precision manufacturing, alongside traditional methods to build homes more quickly and cheaply while maintaining high standards.

Clive Betts, chair of the housing, communities and local government committee, 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 homebuilding.’

The use of modern methods of construction (MMC) in housebuilding is currently low, and action must be taken quickly for it to have an impact on meeting housing targets, the committee said.

Mainly, it said the government must create the conditions to improve investor and consumer confidence in MMC, as by collecting and publishing data to show its long-term value and durability.

Ensuring that workers get the skills they need in both traditional housebuilding methods and MMC will also be necessary to grow capacity in the construction industry, the committee added.

The committee has also backed the development of robust supply chains and the creation of an ‘MMC scheme’, which is currently being developed by the MHCLG Joint Industry Working Group.

This scheme would set out a single set of standards for warranty providers, providing them with greater certainty about the quality of MMC homes, the committee has argued.

‘The housing system is in urgent need of a major boost and if the government is to have any chance of meeting its ambitious target it must grasp every opportunity new technologies allow,’ Betts concluded. ‘But they must act fast and act now.’

An MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to restoring the dream of home ownership for a new generation and while 300,000 homes a year is an ambitious target, and we believe it is one that is eminently achievable.

‘In order to meet this goal we need to think innovatively, and that’s why we’re keen that housebuilders embrace modern methods of construction to help deliver good quality new homes faster and drive up choice and quality for consumers.

‘Last year delivered more new homes than in all but one of the last 31 years but we want to see the whole sector, public and private, push on by getting behind the latest innovations in development and building.’

Last month, NewStart met Richard Brown, director of the thinktank Centre for London, to discuss their recent report Made for London: Realising the Potential of Modern Methods of Construction.

Chris Ogden
Digital News Reporter


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