Government support for the pivotal role of modern methods of construction in delivering affordable new homes is both welcome and critical if we are to meet climate and productivity targets, address the skills shortage and prioritise safe working conditions, says Ian Lock, director of sales – Newbuild & MO (Multi Occupancy) at Baxi Heating
In recent weeks the government and Homes England, the public body that funds new affordable housing in England, have underlined their continued support for modern methods of construction (MMC) as a key driver in building new affordable homes.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said that MMC is “central” to the government’s new five-year £11.5bn affordable homes programme in order to build “better and more sustainable homes”. The new bidding guidance, which applies to Homes England’s programme outside of London, requires at least a quarter of affordable homes to be developed using MMC techniques. Full details of the government’s funding criteria can be found here
At Baxi Heating, we welcome this focus on investment in MMC for house building. The benefits of applying MMC methods, including offsite prefabrication and modular construction, are well established: faster build, superior quality, reduced waste and cost savings are just some of the compelling advantages. CIBSE estimates that on average a 13.4% cost saving can be achieved when using prefabricating compared to conventional on-site builds.
Use of MMC brings similar benefits to heating in both new build and refurbishment applications. Prefabricated modular heating solutions are a smaller part of the volumetric build, falling under Category 5 in the MMC framework. But importantly they offer an opportunity to centralise the heating system, thereby supporting decarbonisation through use of heat networks – another government priority.
Prefabricated turnkey heating solutions also successfully address the skills shortage within the heating industry, enabling the challenging demands for affordable housing and climate targets to be met.
And crucially, in COVID times, adopting modern methods and techniques provides a means of prioritising onsite safety, making it easier to adhere to social distancing by reducing the number of skills, workers and time spent onsite.
At Baxi Heating, we are well versed in manufacturing high quality prefabricated modular solutions, from packaged plant rooms and complete energy centres to pre-assembled modules with Heat Interface Units in utility cupboards and skid-mounted boiler rig modules.
These heating solutions are designed to be quickly and easily integrated into the volumetric build, helping the overall delivery of the programme and easing the burden on constrained skills. For example, we estimate that using utility cupboards produced in a quality-controlled factory environment using specialist machinery will reduce the number of otherwise required onsite trades and trade days by up to six.
Increasing use of modern solutions like these is clearly critical if we are to tackle the industry’s skills shortage, meet the huge demand to create new affordable housing stock safely through increased productivity, and help the UK achieve its 2050 net zero emissions goal. With our proven experience and expertise in delivering quality heating solutions, we are prepared for change and look forward to working with developers and the project team to address the carbon challenges and support the faster, safer delivery of high-quality new homes.