Will COVID-19 catalyse a shift to off-site construction?

The announcement of return to work in a "COVID-Safe" way and the new "Homes for Heroes" campaign offers an opportunity to further boost the uptake of off-site construction methods, especially in London and other big cities around the UK.

While many construction sites have already reopened, social distancing, increased Health & Safety requirements together with public transport capacity shortage and risks mean that traditional building sites are likely to operate at a much reduced output for the foreseeable future. This will translate into longer construction times and higher costs. Modular design optimised for manufacture can be carried out in a factory controlled environment located outside, or on the outskirts of the urban areas and delivered to site for assembly reducing on site work by up to 80% depending on the off-site system chosen.

Offsite construction is less labour intensive making it easier to ensure safer distancing, with the factory environment bringing benefits due to it being a more ordered and controlled environment that is process-driven. Off-site construction has not avoided all of the disruption, but off-site factories and contractors were still producing buildings and assembling them on site while many traditional construction sites had to stay closed.

As it is likely that the current working restrictions will last well beyond the current lock-down, clients will now likely insist on COVID-19 or equivalent contingency plans and Risk Assessments on all future projects.

Off-site construction can offer a rapid solution to provide emergency hospitals, laboratory and testing facilities or new classrooms to increase capacity. It also offers permanent quality buildings for Residential, Student Accommodation and Hospitality sectors.

During a recent "State of the Market" webinar run by New London Architecture it was discussed that London will have to innovate by using more off-site construction and significantly adapting public transport, offices, homes and working hours if it is to avoid a ‘depression’ rather than just a recession arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you would like to investigate the use of modular design and off-site construction on your current or future projects please get in touch for a no-obligation consultation. Modulor Studio have many years of experience in the design and delivery of off-site projects across the residential sector and are committed to developing these systems further.

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