Offsite Magazine - Issue 11 ( May/June)

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DOMINIC RAAB MP Minister of State for Housing underlines the enormous opportunities for housing innovation


CITU LIFE Zero carbon neighbourhoods, smarter communities and inspirational design


BARRATT EUROPEAN STUDY TOUR Exclusive report on how offsite methods are progressing on the continent



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PEFC 16-33-576 paper stock by Buxton Press PUBLISHER: Offsite Magazine is produced and published by Radar Communications: ©Radar Communications Ltd. Radar Communications Ltd, 5 Darwin Court, Oxon Business Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. SY3 5AL T: 01743 290001 For offsite enquiries please contact: E: DISCLAIMER: The content of Offsite Magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or publishers and are the views of its contributors and advertisers. The digital edition may include hyperlinks to third-party content, advertising, or websites, provided for the sake of convenience and interest. The publishers accept no legal responsibility for loss arising from information in this publication and do not endorse any advertising or products available from external sources. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without the written consent of the publishers. All rights reserved.

HOW TO HOUSE THE UK Welcome to the latest edition of Offsite Magazine. This issue focuses heavily on the subject that never seems to be far from the headlines – housing. The design, manufacture, delivery and affordability of the vast numbers of new homes required is a tough challenge. A number of housing providers are featured in this issue in the run up to the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Housing 2018 event in Manchester, where an offsite ‘demonstration village’ will be open to visitors to see offsite technology in action. As Stephen Kinsella of the Accelerated Construction Programme, Homes England, says: “We see the expansion of offsite construction as absolutely crucial in getting the increase in numbers we need to build 300,000 homes a year. Simply put, there isn’t the capacity in the industry to build 300,000 homes through traditional methods.” This is echoed by Minister of State for Housing, Dominic Raab, who is featured in this issue outlining the Government’s view of offsite saying: “For consumers – whether renting or buying – these innovative practices can offer better homes, lower energy bills, fewer maintenance issues, smart technology as standard, and a much greater choice of design.” How to get it all done? Choice, affordability and living in a desirable location is key to what operators such as Urban Splash and shedkm

are doing. Their modular homes are giving customer choices thanks to design templates which allow them to pick a variety of layouts to suit their needs with an added option to change homes over time. We also hear from Chris Thompson, Managing Director of ambitious sustainable urban developers, Citu, who are moving beyond traditional thinking and realised that outdated traditional construction methods are blocking the transition to low carbon cities and are setting out to revolutionise the way in which homes are designed and built in the UK to provide vibrant and healthy communities. We also carry an exclusive report on a recent study tour hosted by Barratt Developments. This sought to understand more about how our European mainland counterparts are approaching the problems of changing demographics and housing supply. Steel, timber and concrete all feature with several case studies including Europe’s third tallest steel modular building at Mapleton Crescent, the Oculus at the University of Warwick – also the venue for the upcoming Solid Wood Solutions event – and the Chapel Wharf Project in Salford that used precast concrete to full advantage to deliver a complex multi-storey residential scheme. As always special thanks to all our contributors, advertisers and supporters.

Gary Ramsay

Consultant Editor Email:

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42 | A New Way of Living





Extraspace Solutions recently delivered four offsite manufactured homes for Wolverhampton Homes in conjunction with City of Wolverhampton Council, creating a robust and easy to maintain, fast track installation and fit-out.

The role that offsite manufacture can play in solving many of the UK’s housing problems has never been more prominent. Minister of State for Housing, Dominic Raab, outlines how the Government is taking steps to stimulate and encourage the greater use of offsite methods.




44 | Agents of Change

The housing sector is in need of radical change in the ways houses are designed and delivered. Andy Bellerby, Associate at shedkm, illustrates how offsite manufacture can provides a fresh and direct approach to building homes and communities.

58 | Fit for the Future

In a few short years, modular offsite timber manufacturer Carbon Dynamic have garnered a reputation for cutting edge design and delivery. Managing Director Matt Stevenson, took part in a quick Q&A about how new technology is changing the shape of construction.

64 | Brand Before Building


When Chris Thompson, Managing Director of sustainable urban developers, Citu, realised that outdated construction methods would hold back his ambition to accelerate the transition to low carbon cities, he set out to revolutionise the way in which homes are designed and built in the UK.

Knowledge and performance was the mantra for the recent trip undertaken by a group of Barratt Developments plc Main Board, Senior Management team and key UK suppliers who visited Germany and Holland to study offsite manufacturing techniques and housebuilding technologies.



08 | Industry News

26 | NHBC Roundtable

News and developments from across the UK offsite industry and wider construction arena including: a new MPBA and University of Salford market survey, BOPAS registrations continue to rise and Robertson complete work on the flagship £140 million distillery and visitor experience in Speyside.

With a mantra of ‘space not rooms’ and a glowing reputation for delivering a new lease of life to empty mills and warehouses, Urban Splash has long held a belief that offsite construction can deliver huge value in creating a new breed of living spaces across the UK.

Homes are different to housing. Housing is about the physical characteristics of the dwelling, the cost, the procurement and the scale of delivery. Homes are about people, their lives, emotions, ambitions, successes and failures. Brendan Geraghty of Geraghty Taylor discusses why this is so important.

76 | The Living Building

The Oculus provides the University of Warwick with a new BREEAM Excellent flagship building with an impressive glulam timber roof and curved three storey glass façade, making it instantly recognisable, reducing embodied carbon and improving sustainability. It is also the venue for the upcoming Solid Wood Solutions event.

84 | Component Based Design: solving the housing crisis

Under its headline banner of ‘raising standards, protecting homeowners’ the NHBC plays a pivotal role in the UK housing sector. As it witnesses an upsurge in interest in offsite construction, it recently hosted a Roundtable Event to discuss quality and performance.

James Walsh, Lead Designer at Anyo Architects, presents a vision of the future for housing design and delivery that could – and should – be just around the corner.

86 | The Key to Unlocking Brownfield Sites

Tom Shaw, Buildings Director at Ramboll, sees the adoption and development of digital design techniques as critical if we are to unlock the full potential of brownfield sites.

CONNECTING THE UK OFFSITE INDUSTRY Online information centre offering industry news, project profiles, technical downloads and learning resources tailored to the offsite sector.




MODULAR WINS IN WOLVERHAMPTON Extraspace Solutions recently delivered four offsite manufactured homes for Wolverhampton Homes in conjunction with City of Wolverhampton Council, creating a robust and easy to maintain, fast track installation and fit-out.

1 Wolverhampton Homes manages and look after more than 23,000 homes on behalf of the City of Wolverhampton Council. Extraspace Solutions was awarded the contract to design and build four semi-detached affordable housing units on a green site on Cannock Road in Wolverhampton, won through a competitive tendering process. Working collaboratively with the Wolverhampton Homes team, Extraspace Solutions designed the housing units and brought all of the benefits into the design associated with offsite manufacturing techniques to enable the delivery of a fast track construction programme. The site is on a busy main road leading in and out of Wolverhampton with a school nearby, taking heavy traffic daily and 6

football traffic on the weekends. The development of a reduced project timeframe with a smooth and fast installation process was vital to ensure minimum disruption in and around Cannock Road. Extraspace Solutions took the scheme from concept design stage and developed a house design with Wolverhampton Homes in line with their expectations and specifications with regards to adopting these units into a large property portfolio that had to be maintained with ease. Extraspace Solutions also lead the planning process and worked closely with the client team and the Planning Authority to produce the scheme design that would be acceptable and approved. This took into account all aspects of the site including tree removal, species


protection, utility applications and connections and roadway alterations to allow for driveway parking. The house design included a traditional pitched and tiled roof which was constructed in a modular format offsite. The roof units were lifted into place with 90% completed in one working day on site. The finish externally included red brick as selected by the planning authority and client along with a blend of Cedral weatherboard to the rear and front of the housing units with a PVC window system and composite entrance door completing the external finish. Internally the houses are spacious using all available space practically within the rooms with a living area

COVER STORY EXTRASPACE SOLUTIONS with French doors leading into a fully-fitted kitchen space and sliding patio doors leading to the rear garden. A downstairs toilet and cupboard space completed the ground floor facilities with staircase leading to a bathroom and two large bedrooms upstairs. There is also an open study space or multi-space on the first floor. The houses are finished with plasterboard skimmed walls and ceilings, fully decorated, with a gas central heating system, fitted bathroom and shower, LED lighting throughout and all power supplies for kitchen equipment and TV. External works included the clearing of the site foundations, drainage and all road connections to existing utilities. Front garden areas include driveway parking and rear gardens have a turfed lawn including close boarded timber fencing. Site possession took place after planning approval in late November 2017. Works progressed onsite with foundations and drainage while the housing units were being manufactured offsite at the same time. The complete building structures were constructed offsite and the fit out then proceeded onto the completion of all external wall structures, windows and doors, internal partitions and doors, ceilings and even the staircase was fitted in the factory. Mechanical and electrical works all continued offsite with full first fix works and up to 80% of second fix works. Walls were closed, skimmed and painted offsite with all sanitary fitted and the full fitted kitchen installed offsite as well. The installation of all four housing units took place over a period of two days and was co-ordinated to happen over a weekend so as to avoid the main Monday to Friday traffic in the area. All four houses were lifted into position over these two days and then on a single further day all roof units were lifted into position. In just three working days all four houses were installed onsite and were sitting in position ready to take the final finishes. Mains utility connections were installed and the housing units tested and commissioned and handed over to the client just 14 weeks after starting onsite in late November.

2 City of Wolverhampton Council Director For Housing, Kate Martin, said: “This project is yet another example of how the Council is using innovative ways to accelerate housebuilding in the City of Wolverhampton. Clearly, larger housing developments are crucial to meeting our housing targets – but the cumulative effect of smaller scale projects like this is also vital to improving our offer.” Shaun Aldis, Chief Executive at Wolverhampton Homes, added: “We’re really excited about this scheme. Modular buildings have many benefits over traditional construction including a shorter construction time, reduced site disruption and more consistent quality. This means we can provide more council housing, more quickly, without too much disruption to the people living next to the build site.” Phillip Hutton, Business Development Director for Extraspace Solutions added: “The Wolverhampton project is a perfect example of how Local Authorities and Housing Associations can embrace what offsite construction has to offer to provide innovative ways to accelerate housebuilding in all regions throughout the country. “This construction methodology has many benefits over traditional methods including a much shorter construction time, reduced site disruption in residential and busy areas and more consistent quality of finish. The house types manufactured offsite are about 85% complete, including many aspects of the fit-out and external cladding finishes which results in housing schemes being completed in less than half the time of traditional schemes.

3 Offsite design and build provides fully compliant and certified housing with excellent qualities in energy efficiency and thermal performance. This was the first scheme of its kind undertaken in Wolverhampton and both Wolverhampton Homes and Wolverhampton City Council are delighted with the outcome and success of the scheme. The collaborative approach of Wolverhampton Homes, City Council and Extraspace Solutions further highlighted the benefits of working together to achieve common goals and deliver excellence.” For more information visit: or email:

Images: 01-03. In just three working days all four houses were installed onsite and were sitting in position ready to take the final finishes.



UK INDUSTRY NEWS Lloyds Banking Group and Homes England Announce Further Housing Funding

The Government will continue to support Home England’s investment in the Housing Growth Partnership (HGP) by committing to a further £60 million, which will be matched by Lloyds Banking Group. Nearly two years after the initial investment was made by both parties. Established in 2015, HGP has already committed to deliver circa 2000 homes across 35 sites in the UK by partnering with small and medium-sized builders who cannot easily access development finance. HGP is a social impact investor backed by Lloyds Bank and Homes England to help address housing affordability by providing support to the regional residential development community to increase the number of new homes built in the UK. The combined investment builds on the previous £100 million from Lloyds and Homes England and will help partners to deliver around £1 billion of new homes by summer 2019. It also provides ongoing security to a number of firms for their funding and the opportunity to support more builders across the UK. Beyond access to funding, the HGP’s partners have benefitted from 1,500 hours of mentoring to help support sustainable growth in housing delivery. Andy Hulme, CEO and Head of Fund for

Housing Grown Partnership at Lloyds said: “The announcement of further funding marks another significant milestone in the evolution of the Housing Growth Partnership. This supports our core purpose of accelerating the delivery of homes across the UK through our partnerships with small and mid-sized housebuilders.” Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England (pictured) added: “The Housing Growth Partnership shows what is achieved when we partner with the private sector and double the amount of capital available to lend to SMEs, offering excellent value for money for the tax payer. Homes England is harnessing Lloyds commercial skills and contacts and our investment capital to provide a new source of funding for SME developers who will then build more than 3,400 new additional homes in England.” Homes England will act differently from its predecessor, bringing together money, land, expertise and planning and compulsory purchase powers to accelerate the supply of new homes and address affordability issues in areas of highest demand. Source: organisations/homes-england

Fab Houses for North Shields What was once a shipyard is being transformed into a beautiful place to live with help of TV architect George Clarke. Smith’s Dock in North Shields is undergoing a transformation into a vibrant new riverside neighbourhood. A row of ten two-storey modular townhouses been designed in collaboration with North-East architect and Channel 4 television presenter George Clarke and TDO Architecture. The design is exclusive to Smith’s Dock, Places for People and Urban Splash, the joint venture partnership redeveloping Smith’s Dock, that have just launched the sale with prices starting at £225,000. “What we’re creating here are proper family homes – homes that are spacious, well-planned and will encourage family living,” says George Clarke. “The plans for the whole area make for a wonderful community. Smith’s Dock is an important historic site and the development is the epitome of true regeneration – with diverse home designs, sensitively designed public spaces and the reopening of the stunning waterfront. When complete, Smith’s Dock is going to be a great neighbourhood to live in and I’m proud that my Fab House design is part of it.” Each of the Fab Houses has been created using offsite, modular technology. Each Fab House has three bedrooms and 930sq ft of living space, with heating, lighting and hot water all controlled by an app. Explaining his reasons for adopting offsite construction, George adds: “Smith’s Dock was the perfect place to


show how we can raise the standards of UK homes by adopting innovative modular construction. Innovative building and manufacturing technology have been a fundamental part of the Smith’s Dock site for years through shipbuilding, so for me it was so important that we adopt these same principles on the site for 21st century homebuilding. I’ve been fascinated by the benefits of modular construction for a very long time. I believe that in a country that unfortunately has too many poorly-designed and badly-built homes, this was an obvious route to take.”


Guy Ackernley of Urban Splash, says that having launched the first homes at Smith’s Dock last summer, the company was delighted to unveil George’s Fab Houses. “I know there’s been a keen appetite amongst buyers to see these designs and I can’t wait to share the finished product now that we are open for viewings.” Source:

UK INDUSTRY NEWS McAvoy Uses Award-Winning BIM Technology for Surrey Schools

McAvoy Group has handed over a new school building at West Hill School in Leatherhead, bringing the number of education projects now completed by McAvoy for Surrey County Council to more than 40. The project at West Hill – an Ofsted outstanding special school – featured extensive use of BIM to help address the complexities of the site. It was manufactured offsite to reduce disruption and was ready for occupation on time and after less than eight months on site. The scheme links the traditionally-constructed main building and an existing modular classroom block on a highly constrained, fully operational school site. The new building expands the teaching spaces for children with learning and additional needs. These are to accommodate West Hill School’s conversion from secondary education provision to a 2FE primary school. An offsite solution was developed to build a teacher training centre on the upper floor as West Hill is also a Teaching School and National Support School. Both of the existing school buildings at West Hill remained in use throughout McAvoy’s construction of the new facilities. The offsite solution avoided any

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disruption to teaching and the children despite the site constraints. 28 steel-framed modules were installed in just four days and McAvoy restricted working times to maintain access and accommodate the children’s arrival at and departure from school. Commenting on the project, Judy Nettleton, Head Teacher at West Hill School, said: “The offsite solution generated massive time savings which were invaluable from an educational perspective. The McAvoy team had outstanding communications throughout, and their work was well planned and highly respectful of the challenges we were facing, both as a special needs school and in the transition from secondary to primary education.” Giorgia diSarno, Project Manager at Surrey County Council, added: “On this project, offsite construction allowed us to develop a bespoke building with the benefits of better quality control in a factory environment. It was essential to reduce time on site to avoid disruption to the school. A shorter construction period on site is hugely beneficial to any school but particularly to special needs children. McAvoy was also able to add value to the project and inform its design by being involved at the project’s inception. This allowed the addition of a further storey.”


McAvoy made extensive use of BIM for the West Hill project to engineer an offsite solution that would accommodate a height difference of 870mm between the main school and the existing modular teaching block. Gradient differences were incorporated within corridors to avoid steps, using a specially-engineered double floor beam design which also maximised offsite construction. Challenging ground conditions required complex piled foundations and a supporting steel frame. Here 3D modelling was invaluable to better inform the groundworks and module installation phases. BIM also facilitated decision making with stakeholders, with the use of 3D models and virtual reality, rather than traditional 2D line drawings. The school was able to see each room and experience the space. It allowed teaching staff to assess how the training centre could work located as a second storey to the new classroom block rather than as a freestanding building which was originally envisaged. In recognition of its industry-leading application of BIM technology for the West Hill School project, McAvoy won the RICS BIM4SME Award for Best Virtual Reality BIM. Source:


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UK INDUSTRY NEWS the UK can form part of the airport’s supply chain, enabling Heathrow’s new runway to deliver a legacy of construction excellence across the UK. Heathrow is pioneering logistics hubs, where components of the airport will be pre-assembled before being transported in consolidated loads to the airport. They will ensure that 60% of procurement spend will be outside of London, spreading the benefits of local investment up and down the country. Heathrow’s logistics hubs feature in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, listed as an example of how to develop skills across the UK and create conditions where successful businesses can emerge.

Heathrow Tours Hits Manchester Manchester hosted a delegation from Heathrow Airport as part of a nationwide tour of 65 sites still in the running to be the offsite construction centres for the Heathrow expansion. MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, co-ordinated the delegation’s visit to potential ‘Logistics Hubs’ in Bolton and Rochdale. Logistics hubs will help ensure that businesses across

Heathrow representatives will visit eight longlisted sites across the North West region in the next few months, and aim to open a pre-qualification questionnaire process later this year. During each visit, the prospective logistics hub will have the opportunity to demonstrate the strengths of their proposal. The expansion at Heathrow is a critical national infrastructure project for the UK that is expected to deliver up to £16bn in economic benefits and up to 15,300 jobs across the North West.

build for the future and deliver a lasting skills legacy for future generations. All of this comes at a pivotal time for our country, as it prepares itself to leave the EU and where we need to build for our future in both travel and trade. Offsite construction is an innovative way for these balances to be met and we can’t wait to see for ourselves the opportunity we have in working with the best businesses in the country.” Tim Newns, chief executive officer, MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, said: “As a longlisted destination, Greater Manchester welcomes this site tour as the next step in Heathrow expansion and the opportunity to transform the UK construction industry. We believe Greater Manchester represents an ideal location for one of Heathrow’s logistics hubs. Heathrow expansion is a truly national project that will benefit every region by spreading jobs, boosting productivity and boosting the construction industry outside of London and the South East. A logistics hub in Greater Manchester would bring huge benefits to local communities and businesses in the North West by creating jobs and supply chain opportunities and leaving a skills legacy for future generations.”

Lord Deighton, Chairman at Heathrow Airport said: “Heathrow expansion is a once in a generation opportunity to transform the UK construction industry,


early engagement coupled with our BIM Level 2 experience and bespoke offsite capability, via our offsite manufacturing facility, Prism, allowed us to influence the M&E design at the outset of the project. As a result, a significant 60% of the MEP services will be produced offsite which meets a key target of GSK’s brief to replicate the building elsewhere in the world. I believe Q Block is an excellent example of offsite construction being used to best effect and I am delighted that SES has made such a positive contribution to the scheme.“ Further to the M&E services benefiting from offsite technology, 40% of the building’s shell (including precast units, wall systems, steel framework and 95% of a 2.5Ksqm clean room will be created offsite.

Colin Driver, Project Manager, GSK, added: “This is an exciting phase in the ongoing development of our Barnard Castle manufacturing facility. The idea is to replicate the design globally on secondary sites, building in the flexibility within individual modules, but also future-proofing the design for at least 10-20 years without the risk of drug regulatory impact, hence reducing future design costs. I believe this can only be achieved using offsite technology.” It is anticipated that Q Block will complete in November 2019.

SES Announce GSK Project SES Engineering Services (SES) has announced it has started onsite on a prestigious £94 million aseptic manufacturing facility in Barnard Castle, Durham, for global pharmaceutical company, GSK. GSK has had a presence in Barnard Castle since the 1940s and since that time it has invested across its site expanding facilities to ensure it remains at the forefront of the pharmaceutical sector. The new 11,500sq m Q Block aseptic facility will allow GSK to add further to its broad range of products for HIV, respiratory and oncology treatment. As can be expected of a pharmaceutical manufacturer, GSK works to the highest standards. These exacting standards and the need to guarantee quality and maintain tight control over the build process and schedule, along with the manufacturer’s desire to be able to replicate the building anywhere in the world, were key drivers in choosing offsite as the central construction method and which led to SES’ direct appointment with GSK. Now on site, SES will work to a detailed schedule of works to install all mechanical and electrical (M&E) building services, ensuring that there is minimum disruption to the live manufacturing site. Steve Joyce, SES’ Business Director North and Scotland, said: “GSK is a forward-thinking company which identified and appreciated the importance of getting SES on-board at the earliest opportunity. This



Source: ses-engineering-services-starts-on-site-atgsk-plant/

UK INDUSTRY NEWS HUSK Launches in County Durham A company that converts disused garage sites into affordable new homes has been hailed a success after delivering its first prototype in County Durham. The company behind the concept, HUSK, aims to completely redefine, redesign and revitalise sites into much needed modern affordable one and two bedroom homes – in as little as 12 weeks. The patentpending concept sees offsite manufactured houses built and then transported onto site converting the existing garages into new affordable dwellings. North East and Yorkshire-based Karbon Homes is the first housing association to trial the new innovation at three of its garage sites in County Durham. HUSK has converted unwanted lock-up garages into twobedroomed homes. The company’s portfolio includes five highly insulated house types providing solutions for a terrace of garages ranging from 50m² up to 70m² into a single space. Each airtight one or two-bedroom home includes a kitchen and bathroom, living and dining space, garden and driveway. The shell of the garage is retained and the terrace of garages are then remodelled to create a single space and restructured to comply with building regulations. The houses are built to laser-measured dimensions to fit precisely within the shell. The units are manufactured

in two halves at the offsite fabricator and then transported to site on low loaders. A crane lowers in the contemporary design bungalow and the home is then joined together by skilled specialist contractors. Russell Edwards, Managing Director for HUSK said: “The solution not only overcomes an array of planning issues but we can transform a former garage site within 12 weeks from start on site to completion. Our innovative patent-pending solution reuses brownfield sites that are previously undevelopable. It satisfies a number of local authority policies by reusing brownfield sites, increases the provision of affordable housing, and omits the maintenance headache of looking after existing garage blocks and regenerates existing housing estates which meets the needs of the National Planning Policy Framework.

At present, housing associations are demolishing infill garage sites as they are unable to be developed using traditional methods thus leaving a baron patch of land. The first homes have just been successfully delivered at three garage sites on behalf of Karbon Homes in County Durham and we are really pleased with the results. We are currently in discussions with a number of local authorities and housing providers across the country to explore how we can deliver a HUSK solution in their areas.” Michael Farr, Development Director at Karbon Homes, said: “Garage sites can be difficult to develop, so this is a really innovative solution which we were excited to explore. For a two-bedroom home, it’s a good size and the amount of insulation will ensure running costs are kept low. The residents who have moved into these new homes have been very complimentary.” Source:

Construction work on building sites involves a huge amount of product and materials checking to make sure everything meets the exacting requirements of building regulations. This can be stressful at the best of times and a helping hand is always welcome. That’s why more and more people are coming to the BBA for off-site certification of their products. • Assessment of new systems including insulated concrete formwork, SIPs and framed systems. • Assuring compliance with Building Regulations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. • Ensuring systems are waterproof, warm, structurally sound and durable. • Factory visits to check system documentation and control. • Site visits to see units being offloaded and installed. • Huge benefit to architects, decision makers and manufacturers.

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UK INDUSTRY NEWS Robertson Unveils ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Project

Hear more at Robertson has completed work on a flagship £140 million distillery and visitor experience for The Macallan in Speyside. Built on the Easter Elchies estate, the new distillery has been unveiled by international premium spirits company Edrington. Main contractor Robertson worked with 25 contractors to bring the vision for the new distillery and visitor experience to life. Taking the complex and unique architectural design and moulding it to complement an area of outstanding natural beauty, this challenging build saw the firm apply all of its technical skills, innovation and expertise to create a seamless connection to the surrounding countryside. During construction, up to 400 people specialising in more than 20 different trades were employed on site. Going forward, Robertson’s facilities management business will provide maintenance services at the facility. It is the first distillery on Speyside to be designed by an internationally acclaimed architecture practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, which was selected to lead the project after an international competition. The striking piece of contemporary architecture is cut into the slope of the land, taking its cues from ancient Scottish hills and maximising the aesthetic beauty of the building whilst minimising the visual impact on the Speyside landscape, which has been classified as an “Area of Great Landscape Value”.


The undulating timber roof structure is one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world, comprising 380,000 individual components. Each junction and beam has a specific name and has been tested in over 160 different load conditions while ‘The Swiss Alpine Design code’ has been used to understand the effects of wind, snow and ice on the intricate structure. The roof comprises 1,750 glued laminated timber beams, making up a 3x3m grid that carries 2,500 cassettes that support the natural meadow roof covering. In total, there are over 380,000 individual roof components. It took almost 12 months of work, using collaborative design and bespoke parametric modelling software, to define the complex geometry, and realise the fluidity of the structure. The timber elements were manufactured in Austria using highprecision, computer-controlled technology, by Wiehag – one of the few companies in the world capable of this level of engineering. There were over 5,000 lifts, using four mobile cranes, to install the roof structure. In a similar way that timber barrels impart a flavour to whisky, the timber roof gives a unique character to this building. The project was announced in 2012 and the build began in December 2014. The first whisky ran through the stills in December last year and the visitor experience will open its doors to the public on 2nd


June. It is expected that visitor numbers will double in the first year and continue to rise thereafter. Bill Robertson, founder and executive chairman, Robertson, said: “This once-in-a-lifetime project is one that Robertson has been honoured to be part of. The complexity of the construction work required a huge effort from various teams within our business, and their passion and dedication for the project is clear when you see the completed distillery and visitor experience. Throughout, we have placed great emphasis on understanding The Macallan’s vision for their Speyside home and there has been a real spirit of collaboration between us and all other partners. We congratulate The Macallan and hope visitors to the area enjoy this world class distillery.” Graham Stirk, senior partner and lead architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, added: “The Macallan estate truly is a special place; a place we have come to love and respect hugely. The vision was always ambitious but this enabled us to challenge our own thinking to create something so dramatic and awe-inspiring. It has been an honour to play our part in shaping the next chapter for The Macallan.” Source:

UK INDUSTRY NEWS BOPAS Registrations Booming BLP Insurance has revealed significant growth in the number of registrations under the Build Offsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS) over the last three years, with 2018 on track to outperform all previous years BOPAS registrations for accreditation were relatively slow from 2013 through to 2015 but interest in offsite began to rise in 2016 and 2017. The number of registrations for 2018 has already reached 12, with another 50 currently in discussion. Last year saw 20 BOPAS registrations in total, with 11 registrations achieved in 2016 and five in 2015, signalling that the number of registrations this year is on track to surpass all previous years since the scheme’s inception. There are a wide range of systems receiving accreditation through BOPAS, but there is little doubt that modular or volumetric systems are most common amongst manufacturers looking to break into the market. Whilst there is a place for all offsite systems, modular and volumetric systems do go further in addressing the current skills shortage we have in the UK with a much greater percentage of the overall build being achieved in the factory setting. Jeff Maxted, Director of Technical Consultancy at BLP Insurance, said: “More and more manufacturers are recognising the valuable assurance BOPAS provides

to funders, valuers, developers and most importantly the consumer regarding the longevity and durability of the end product. We expect to see registrations continue to rise as the sector wakes up to the benefits of offsite construction in alleviating ongoing pressures of workforce shortages, rising costs and growing construction targets. BLP Insurance also recently announced that Swan Housing Group, one of the leading regeneration housing associations in the UK, has secured BOPAS accreditation for its precision engineered, modular, cross-laminated timber (CLT) homes. Swan Housing Group is the first housing association to complete the BOPAS accreditation process, which evaluates and facilitates the adoption of best practice in key performance areas at each stage of project development, through concept, design, manufacture and construction. This accreditation will allow Swan to deliver high quality and affordable modular housing built in a factory setting, with the reassurance that the reliability and durability of the build meets an industrywide benchmark. Jeff Maxted at BLP Insurance added: “Developers are increasingly realising the benefits of offsite construction as a viable solution to delivering affordable, high quality properties at speed. BOPAS will enable Swan Housing Group to capitalise on the merits of offsite manufacturing techniques, while assuring investors and developers of the longevity of the end product through an industry benchmark for quality and durability.”

BOPAS was jointly established by Buildoffsite, BLP Insurance, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Lloyd’s Register and launched in 2013 to provide long-term assurance to lenders and valuers that homes built using non-traditional methods of construction will be durable for at least 60 years, without the need for disproportionate maintenance. BOPAS approved properties that are insured by BLP can be found at:

Established in 1938, the MPBA are the representative body of the volumetric and portable building industry.

The Association plays a critical role in the development of the industry and adds value to its members by providing: • • • • • • • •

Access to unique Training & Events Health & Safety Advice Technical Support Employment Law Service Regular Industry & Legislative Updates New Business Referrals Networking Opportunities Industry Wide Marketing Promotion

For more information visit: Hear more at

UK INDUSTRY NEWS £50K Industry Call for Construction Automation Solutions

Offsite Funding Agreed for London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has agreed to fund a project promoting the standardisation of precision manufactured homes in a bid to solve the capital’s housing crisis. Khan outlined his plans in a letter former Deputy Mayor of London and London Assembly member Nicky Gavron (pictured). The project is to be led by residential consultancy Cast, headed by Mark Farmer, and architect Bryden Wood.

Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) is calling on Scotland’s construction businesses to put forward their proposals for how automation could be used to increase efficiency or improve quality, with the chance for five businesses to receive up to £10,000 worth of funding and support to test their ideas. CSIC helps construction related businesses to innovate, collaborate and grow by matching innovation requirements with business support and academic specialists. Now, in partnership with the Structural Timber Association (STA), it is seeking Scottish companies which have innovative ideas on how the offsite manufacturing cell in CSIC’s Innovation Factory – which can complete a range of timber framing processes – could be used. Up to five ‘winners’ will be chosen to receive a mix of funding and support up to a value of £10,000, including access to CSIC’s network of academic partners, in-house technical specialists and 35,000 sq. ft. Innovation Factory in Hamilton. The Innovation Factory contains 16 pieces of state-of-the-art prototyping and design equipment, including an industrial robot, a collaboration robot, a multi-material 3D printer, a CLT vacuum press, and 4 Edge Planer. Fiona MacDonald, business relationship manager at CSIC said: “This is a chance for construction companies to unleash the next big innovation and directly improve their own bottom line by testing out their ideas for new automated processes which will help them operate more efficiently. The normal costs of exploring new ideas with state-of-the art equipment can be seen as inaccessible, but this innovation call, accompanied by the support available from CSIC,


provides companies with a fantastic opportunity develop new ideas, improve efficiencies and gain a competitive advantage.” Interested parties should submit a short outline of their ideas by no later than 22 June 2018. Successful applicants will then be invited to further develop their ideas through a full proposal. Find out more about the innovation call and application process by contacting Fiona MacDonald, CSIC and The Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) also recently awarded £100,000 of support to seven companies who want to design and develop innovative wood-based products and systems for the construction sector. Ten applications were received for CSIC and FCS’s recent Advanced Timber Products Innovation Challenge, which aimed to encourage the Scottish timber technologies sector to innovate. The seven successful companies were: Robertson Timber Engineering, Stewart Milne Timber Systems, Sylvan Stuart Ltd, MAKAR Ltd, JML Contracts, Dualchas Architects and Neat Living. These seven companies will share 120 days of free access to CSIC’s £3m state-of-the-art Innovation Factory facility at Hamilton International Technology Park, with all technical support also included. Each company will also receive a membership to the Innovation Factory, allowing them future access to the factory facilities at a preferential rate. Source:


Khan’s decision follows a recommendation by the London Assembly’s planning committee in its report into the contribution of offsite manufactured homes to London’s housing crisis, called ‘Designed, sealed, delivered’ to produce a manufactured housing design code for London. Work is due to start immediately and will be completed by the autumn. It will involve consultation with industry and is being jointly funded by a number of industry partners. In his letter, Khan said that key outputs of the project would include: • Research identifying what the greatest opportunities for standardisation of components are across a representative number of different housing typologies • Development of design principles for precision manufactured components, based on the findings of the research • Development of tools and designs to show how these principles can be applied in practice The information will be passed on to developers and housing associations in order to help them identify and order standardised, pre-manufactured components which Khan hopes will: “aggregate demand for precision manufactured homes”. Nicky Gavron, said: “The Mayor has approved funding to promote precision manufactured homes, which demonstrates his commitment to this form of homebuilding. Moreover, it is the sort of leadership required to help galvanise the sector. The piece of work that will follow will be delivered collaboratively with industry and will create a fantastic opportunity for London to take the lead in moving construction nearer to manufacturing.” Source:

UK INDUSTRY NEWS Fusion Ups Digital Offer Fusion Building Systems can now provide its clients with ‘as manufactured’ digital models of their completed structures, thanks to its integration of MWF Pro Metal software from StrucSoft Solutions. Running as an add-on to the widely-used Revit design platform, Fusion has invested in MWF Pro Metal to help its construction clients achieve the highest possible degree of accuracy in their projects and have a clear understanding of the finished structure before the offsite manufacturing process begins. By using MWF Pro Metal, just about every element of the design for consideration can be reviewed in detail prior to sign off, then directly instructed to Fusion’s roll-forming equipment at its Northampton manufacturing facility, producing structures which are precise according to design. Robert Clark, Fusion head of business development, said: “For offsite methods to become widely adopted by the construction industry we need to shift from a project by project approach, to one which is led by the product. BIM is the enabler for this. By integrating StrucSoft Solutions’ MWF Pro Metal into our design, engineering and manufacturing processes, we’re

encouraging our clients to focus their attention on the overall product and in doing so, moving closer to the future of MMC.” Fusion had previously been running a bespoke software solution called FusionSoft, which was ahead of its time when first developed. Now outdated and not BIM-ready, StrucSoft Solutions’ MWF Pro was chosen as Fusion’s new platform for integration with Revit and to enable the Company to work to an enviable degree of technical accuracy. Used day to day in Fusion’s design and manufacturing processes, StrucSoft Solutions’ MWF Pro Metal will enable the automated creation of walls and floors, the accurate design of cutbacks and openings around thousands of M&E locations, structural intersections and accessories, as well as allowing Fusion’s engineers to specify directly into the Revit model. Byron Starnes, StrucSoft Solutions’ EMEA business development manager, added: “We created Fusion’s software solution just for them, tailored to the way they build and allowing them to take advantage of the most modern and up to date software solutions for their digital engineering requirements. Their investment in our product marks a revolutionary overhaul of their existing ICT solution, having an emphasis on greater design efficiencies, accuracy and collaboration - especially as it pertains to the design and manufacturing of the bespoke and patented Fusion system.”

UltraZEDTM purlin. Stronger, lighter, easier.

MWF Pro Metal utilises the built-in intelligence of Revit to automate the creation of light gauge steel framing across virtually any construction project. Developed in conjunction with industry experts, MWF Pro Metal’s automated tools allow users to easily frame entire projects while simultaneously creating schedules, material cut lists, framing elevations and fully dimensioned 2D shop drawings. The tool of choice for professionals framing everything from bathroom pods, right up to billion-dollar healthcare projects. Source:

Our UltraZEDTM purlin and side rail system features a host of refinements designed to make life easier for structural engineers and fabricators responsible for roofing and side cladding projects. Key benefits include greater load bearing capacity, enhanced air permeability within a building and significant advances in sustainability too.

Lighter by Design

DESIGNSUITE PRO Hadley UltraZEDTM is easily selected via our DesignSuite Pro software. Intuitive, customisable and boasting a wealth of innovative features, DesignSuite Pro makes project planning and specifying easier than ever before.

UK INDUSTRY NEWS Offsite Solutions Launch New Premium Hybrid Bathroom Pod

Countryside Properties Pressing Ahead with Timber Factory

Offsite Solutions has launched a new premium bathroom pod which incorporates a concrete base – and becomes the only UK pod manufacturer to offer this type of factory-built wet room. This latest innovation provides a fully waterproofed pod solution for high specification wet rooms and bathrooms. It features cold rolled steel-framed walls with a cast concrete base which removes the need for visible shower trays to create a clean, contemporary appearance.

Leading UK homebuilder Countryside Properties has announced plans to open a closed panel timber frame factory in Warrington to help drive business growth. The private housebuilding and partnership homes business has revealed plans to create a strong modular business as it delivered strong growth in the first half of the year with pre-tax profit up 22% to £74 million on revenue ahead 14% at £400 million. Recent financial reports from Countryside saw the group raise completions by 15% to 1,655 homes in the first half of the year to March 2018. Private unit completions increased by 23% to 773 homes. Private average selling price selling prices dropped 11% to £392,000 driven by an increase in private completions from its Partnerships business, particularly the regional businesses outside London where average selling prices are lower. Underlying house price inflation was 3% in the half year, while underlying build cost inflation was around 3-4%. The group’s mixed tenure partnership homes division is now bigger than traditional housebuilding, and will expand further following the acquisition of the


Midlands- based Westleigh housing group for £135 million in April. This acquisition also included the Westframe timber frame factory based in Leicester, where Countryside plans to make further investment. Countryside plan to invest £6 million in a new closed panel timber frame factory of around 130,000 sq ft in Warrington. Equipment is due to be delivered in the second half of 2018. Once operational the new factory will service the northern and West Midlands regions with a total capacity of 1,500 units per annum helping to secure its supply chain for the longer-term. Ian Sutcliffe, Group Chief Executive (pictured), said: “We continue to deliver our strong organic growth trajectory with robust trading in all regions. We enter the second half in great shape and our acquisition of Westleigh will further increase our momentum by expanding our geographic reach and mixed tenure delivery. With continued strong growth in Partnerships and improved efficiency and returns in the housebuilding division we remain confident of maintaining our sector leading growth over the medium-term.” Source:


The steel and concrete pods are precision manufactured, fitted out and factory tested for exceptional performance and quality control. Applications include high specification luxury apartments, military residences and healthcare schemes where a premium wet room solution is required. The concrete base for these hybrid pods is manufactured using bespoke steel moulds. These moulds are laser cut and welded for each project for greater accuracy and to offer the flexibility to meet almost any design brief, bathroom layout or size. The base solution is designed to have HDPE waste pipework and traps or gullies that are embedded in specially-treated concrete. Factory-installed underfloor heating can sit above the base or can be cast into the concrete. Commenting on this latest innovation, Richard Tonkinson, Executive Director of Offsite Solutions, said: “Our design and engineering teams continue to push the boundaries and break new ground in pod technology. We saw there was an opportunity in the UK market for a pod which combines all the speed, quality and site advantages of steel-framed pods whilst taking the standard of finish to a completely new level. This is a premium pod product offering unprecedented design flexibility and unrivalled build quality for the offsite construction of wet rooms and bathrooms.” Source:


NEW NON-COMBUSTIBLE BUILDING PRODUCT A ‘GAMECHANGER’ The product can be used in the construction of new buildings or applied to existing properties, replicating almost any brick facade to order. The A1 rating was awarded by internationally-respected accreditation house Exova who are based in Warrington.

An innovative North Wales company has won a top fire rating for a new non-combustible building product. Monolith Brick & Stone Ltd expect demand to soar after receiving a coveted A1 rating for its cuttingedge BrickPlus Pro brick slips. Owner Stephen Waring developed BrickPlus Pro as a response to the “natural and understandable” concerns raised by the Grenfell Tower tragedy last year.

Stephen Waring said: “After the Grenfell Tower tragedy there is a huge amount of cautiousness in relation to putting fabrication on buildings and it emphasised the huge importance of having a product with A1 fire rating that everyone can trust. Because of the understandable fears and the perceptions about safety following the Grenfell Tower disaster, the availability of this new product will reinforce peace of mind that developers, specifiers and of the course the public are looking for.

The rigorously tested product comes in panels of 12 brick slips held together by an integrated mesh fused right through the brick slips which give a building a non-combustible façade. Potentially these can dramatically reduce overall construction costs because they fit together like a jigsaw and are so quick to apply.

“We are already seeing much interest because many construction projects have been paused until proper solutions have been found. The new safety A1 fire rating will be a gamechanger for this product which gives us another unique selling point. It’s a massive leap forward. We’ve created a castellated carrier with 12 bricks on it, with a non-combustible fibreglass

MPBA Seek Industry Views on Market Size

only be available to those who take part and will be available on completion through the MPBA.

The Modular and Portable Buildings Association (MPBA) and the University of Salford have teamed up to try and provide a better understanding of the size and nature of the modular and portable buildings sector in the UK. The market size and its potential growth areas are still not understood enough for future predictions and expansion. The research is being delivered by the University of Salford and has been commissioned by the MPBA with all members of the MPBA invited to take part. The survey will help the MPBA gain a better understanding of the sector and help to continue to improve its role in effectively supporting and representing the businesses working within it. The results of the survey will initially


mesh that’s actually been fused inside the product. “Speed of installation is important because labour is such a large part of the cost. We can save weeks in terms of the length of a big project, which can in turn save tens of thousands of pounds in site and labour costs. For example, using our traditional system it reduced the construction time on a student accommodation block in Derby by 18 weeks. Cost savings were enormous. “We can match bricks, so if there are people out there that are building an extension and they need to match a brick, or the bricks are no longer in production, then we can match it. If they’re having to clad a building but the local authority dictate the finish then we can adapt our product to facilitate and appease whatever the local authority requires. There’s massive potential with the product and the opportunity for growth in the future is great. For more information visit:

size and the type of business in the industry. MPBA members specialise in all types of modular building applications.

After completing the survey, the data will then be analysed and reported anonymously in aggregate form. Specific answers will not be seen by anyone outside the research team at the University of Salford. If participants give permission when completing the survey, the MPBA may contact them to seek clarification on answers, but not to ask additional questions. The survey contains a series of questions and will take no more than 30 minutes to complete. The questions relate to turnover, staffing, fleet size, levels of utilisation, and the sectors in which your business works. Founded in 1938 and with 157 members, MPBA plays a key role in connecting all sectors of the modular and portable building industry together. Regardless of


For more details contact Graeme Sherriff: You can take part in the online survey at:

UK INDUSTRY NEWS Bowman Riley at the Ready in Slough Bowman Riley has been appointed as architect and principal designer on a major eight-storey modular residential scheme in Herschel Street, Slough working for the construction company, Mid Group on behalf of Click Properties. The development will provide 238 homes for firsttime buyers, families and professionals using offsite technology. Over the past decade, Bowman Riley has built up specialist modular design expertise on a range of projects. It has recently obtained planning consent for a series of high-rise residential developments in Manchester and Salford, which will create around 750 apartments. The Herschel Street development will feature studio, and one, two and three-bedroom apartments with a number of eighth floor penthouses. There will also be a number of apartments that are classed as affordable homes. Bowman Riley will work alongside Premier Modular.

Andrew Shepherd, CEO at Mid Group said: “We are delighted that Bowman Riley has come on board to deliver this prestigious development. We are confident that their modular design expertise combined with a strong track record in the delivery of residential schemes will contribute towards the successful completion of this major scheme.”

The high specification apartments will help to meet the increased demand for homes in Slough and contribute towards the ongoing renaissance of the town. Slough is currently benefiting from £600 million Heart of Slough regeneration fund and Crossrail is due to arrive in the town in 2019.

Matthew Jones, Director of Bowman Riley, said the firm was working with Beverley-based Premier Modular on this scheme, having previously worked with the firm on a number of healthcare projects, saying: “The main benefits of the modular system is the speed of delivery to the site, the quality of the work, the reduction of

site waste, and there is also less disruption to the local community. All of Bowman Riley’s modular work has been carried out in partnership with East Yorkshirebased companies, which is a reflection of the area’s heritage.” Bowman Riley Architects was established 50 years ago in Skipton, North Yorkshire. Offsite building methods will enable installation in only 10 weeks. Work is due to start on site later this year with the first new homes handing over in 2019. Source:

FACTORY TOURS Inside Offsite is a series of CPD factory tours focusing on opening up the manufacturing facilities of some of the UK’s leading suppliers of offsite technologies including LGSF, timber frame, SIPS, precast concrete, pods and volumetric modular solutions. These factory tours are completely FREE to attend and are designed for architects, engineers, designers, contractors, developers and clients to learn about manufacturing processes and how a manufacturing business functions, including; procurement, quality control, material requirements planning, resource scheduling and to appreciate the requirements of design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA). NB. You will not be booked on to attend until the host company has confirmed your booking.

UPCOMING TOURS... LGSF EOS Facades 20th September 2018 County Durham PRECAST CONCRETE FP McCann 26th September 2018 Cheshire

FREE to attend - REGISTER NOW - If you would like to apply to become a host company, please email:


MOVING TO A HIGHER LEVEL Leading material handling solutions provider Combilift has officially opened its new global headquarters and manufacturing facility in Monaghan, Ireland. The €50 million facility is the latest chapter in the organisation’s successful 20-year history.

1 The new 46,500 sq. m purpose–built factory is set on a 100-acre site with room for expansion. With 11 acres of roof space, it is one of the largest manufacturing operations under one single roof in the Republic of Ireland. Incorporating the latest manufacturing processes with a focus on sustainability, the new factory will enable Combilift to double its output in a single shift across all production lines. Four 90m moving assembly lines produce a finished truck every 15 minutes. 30% of its roof space is covered in skylights enabling staff to work in natural daylight without the assistance of artificial lighting. Lighting is provided through 1100 LED light with individual sensors. Solar panels supply 185 kW of energy with a 1 MW 22

biomass plant fuelled by recycled wood to heat the spray booths and assembly area plus 110,000 litres of rainwater is harvested for use throughout the facility. Speaking at the official opening Irish Prime Minster Leo Varadkar TD said: “Combilift is an incredible homegrown Monaghan success story. When the company was founded 20 years ago, it had three employees, a brilliant concept, and the ambition to make it a reality. We need more home-grown companies like Combilift if we are to achieve our vision for a prosperous future for communities living in counties all across the country. I would like to congratulate Robert Moffett and Martin McVicar, their leadership team


and staff, and everyone at the Combilift on their achievements to date and wish them every success for the future.” Currently employing 550 people, the investment will enable Combilift to meet its ambitious growth plans. “We have employed an additional 230 people since we announced our plans for this factory in 2015 and we are planning to recruit an additional 200 in the next three years,” said Martin McVicar, Managing Director. An acknowledged world leader in the material handling sector, mass customisation of products is at the heart of what they do. “Combilift has set the benchmark for the mass production of customised innovative products,” adds Martin.

UK INDUSTRY NEWS “Mass customisation is the new frontier for both the customer and the manufacturer. Increasingly customers are expecting products to be tailored to meet their needs.” Combilift invests 7% of its annual turnover of €230 million in research and development to enhance this customisation capability and to maximise ROI for its customers. They are keen to emphasise they design around specific customer requirements and respond to the challenges and material handling issues that are described to them. “The flexibility in our new facility means that we can continue to accommodate any request for a customised material handling solution. The new factory enables us to double production and remain focused on the needs of our customers and dealers. We have become much more than a forklift manufacturer and are transforming the transport and logistics sector with our innovative, space-saving products.”

2 Established in 1998, Combilift currently exports 98% of its products to 85 countries through its 250-strong international dealer network. New trucks unveiled at the show included the Comb-HC-PPT – a high capacity powered pallet truck with lift capacities of 3000-6000kg and the Combi-OP Order Picker – the first purpose-built to order picker on the worldwide market for long products. For more information visit:

3 Image: 01. The €50 million facility is one of the largest manufacturing operations under one single roof in the Republic of Ireland. 02. The new factory will enable Combilift to double its output in a single shift across all four production lines. 03. Straddle carriers can be used for transporting precast concrete flooring.

MATERIAL HANDLING SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR INDUSTRY Combilift is the leading supplier of customised handling solutions with guaranteed improved storage capacity, safer product handling and increased productivity.

+353 47 80500


SCOTTISH CONSTRUCTION BUSINESSES MUST BE READY TO ‘MODERNISE OR DIE’ Mark Farmer recently spoke openly about the future of the construction sector at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC). and, to top it all, a huge image problem. A recent YouGov poll found that two-thirds of Brits wouldn’t even consider a career in construction – and especially in the light of Brexit, that clearly must change. As you would expect from the author of a report about modernisation, I have more than a few thoughts on what needs to be done to address these challenges. It’s hard to summarise these into such a small space, but firstly, we need to work together more. Businesses, their clients and the government need to collaborate to improve relationships, and to increase levels of investment in R&D and innovation.

1 “Given that my day job is as a real estate consultant from London, most of Scotland’s construction sector probably knows me best as the author of the “Modernise or Die” report about the future of their industry. I’ve seen myself described as a “man on a mission to change the construction industry” and I think this hits the nail on the head. So what’s so wrong with the construction industry anyway? My report highlighted that the main challenges we face include low productivity, a dysfunctional training model, lack of research and development and investment in innovation, a fragmented leadership


We need to move away from traditional approaches in favour of more efficient and effective premanufactured methods like offsite build or modular construction. We simply can’t keep relying on onsite labour. A shrinking workforce means that soon we will not have the resources to deliver what the country needs by working in this way. This declining workforce means we will also rely more and more on technology, smart methods and future skills, such as BIM and digitisation, to help us to do more with less. This means that training needs to be much more digitally-focused. We need to address that image problem. Let’s get into schools and talk with one unified voice about the exciting vision for the industry’s future. I know this is an area that Construction Scotland and CSIC have already given a lot of thought to, and I can only encourage the industry to support this. I was happy to see the UK Government announcing its Construction Sector


Deal at the end of last year as part of its Industrial Strategy white paper. The Sector Deal will see £170m of government investment over three years to help prepare the UK construction sector for the future, helping companies build better performing buildings and infrastructure at a greater speed and reduced cost, through better adoption of digital and manufacturing technologies. It also aims to boost the skills of construction workers and help train the next generation. Around £60m of this investment will be allocated under the Transforming Construction Challenge Fund, through a competitive process. Bids for the first round are due in summer 2018. CSIC is supporting Scottish construction businesses and organisations to ensure they have the best possible chance of grabbing a piece of this investment pie. Scotland’s construction businesses are very lucky to have CSIC on their doorstep. As well as business support and expertise, their Innovation Factory gives access to a wealth of stateof-the-art and wonderfully exciting equipment to fuel innovation. I’ll leave any innovation doubters with a reassuring thought. The need to modernise doesn’t mean that everything traditional must go. Our ultimate aim should be to find a way to marry the positive elements of the past with the innovative techniques of the future. This is how the construction industry can successfully evolve, adapt and survive. Source:



Morello, a landmark development designed by Axis Architects for Menta Redrow, comprises four blocks ranging from 8 to 17 storeys. Together, they provide 300 residential units behind a layered façade of over 12,000m² of Gebrik cladding. solution, we achieved a quick, efficient build programme, with logistical issues on site, such as structural support, access and storage, all significantly reduced.”

Gebrik was considered an ideal solution to enable all programme targets to be hit, with Errigal Facades completing the installation of the unique offsite manufactured brick cladding system on all four blocks in just 16 months. Errigal Director, Damien Treaner, said: “By using a lightweight brick cladding

As Gebrik arrived in load sizes of approximately 600m², Errigal received around 70% fewer deliveries than would typically be expected for brick loads. Damien continued: “Each pallet contained around 25m² of panels and corners, so our storage requirements were also reduced – by about 65% compared to brick.” Aquarian was on hand with expert technical support, ensuring that all stakeholders, including warranty provider NHBC, were satisfied that

the BBA certificate and BR135 large scale fire report were appropriate for the through-wall construction process used on the buildings. Aquarian Managing Director, Paul Richards, added: “Morello is a unique development in a fantastic location and is already drawing favourable comparisons to other local projects. It’s certainly a project that we’re proud to present as a showcase of our service and support as well as a perfect example of Gebrik, our robust, intelligent and innovative brick cladding system.” For more information visit:



Under its headline banner of ‘raising standards, protecting homeowners’ the NHBC plays a pivotal role in the UK housing sector and is key to providing guidance and information on construction techniques. As it witnesses an upsurge in interest in offsite construction, it recently hosted a Roundtable Event to discuss quality and performance.

1 It is increasingly clear that boosting housing output at a time of declining skills requires evermore innovation by the housebuilding industry and the greater use of non-traditional building methods. The NHBC are seeing increased numbers of systems and components being put forward for assessment against the NHBC Standards. Such reviews are essential, to be assured that homes and their component parts are designed, manufactured and constructed to consistently meet performance standards. This summarises the introduction given by Graham Sibley, Market Development Manager of the NHBC and quality was a consistent theme throughout the discussions. To underpin the quality agenda the panel – a mixture of public sector organisations and private sector offsite manufacturers – focused on the need to forge strong partnerships


within the offsite technology delivery model to ensure consistency and continuity of supply and alongside an auditable approach. All geared towards continuous improvement and knowledge sharing.

Whilst more homes are needed faster it should not be at the expense of quality. A fine balance is required between volume, quality and speed of deployment, meaning key stakeholders such as the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Homes England and the Greater London Authority (GLA) should play a central role to evangelise for the adoption of offsite construction techniques but with a cautious approach to pushing the boundaries – ‘leading edge technology not bleeding edge technology.’


Both MHCLG and the GLA were strongly represented at the roundtable and responded positively to the question of: ‘Is greater Government involvement with policy/legislation required to drive offsite uptake?’ It is clear that there is an understanding within these circles that large volumes are required to achieve the desired economies of scale and that these volumes need to be confirmed to encourage a steady pipeline of demand rather than the present ‘erratic’ demand profiles – no doubt this can be achieved with the much lauded concept of ‘aggregated demand’. But this may require direct intervention at a local authority level to ensure that similar clients are collaborating to achieve this aim. It is here that more ‘enforcement’ of standardising technologies, processes and footprints is likely to be required. Consistent Thinking and Promotion In London the GLA has been explicit in its desire to see greater standardisation, recently commissioning a dedicated research project in this area. It has also incentivised the uptake of offsite technology through key partnerships and innovation funding, which may ultimately lead to the establishment of localised manufacturing facilities and structured offsite frameworks. There is also talk of offsite demonstration projects/expos – such as HomeWorld Expo – whereby a residential development model of mixed type/use/tenure, can be delivered as an exemplar of offsite construction, demonstrating great design, great processes and great

NHBC ROUNDTABLE quality. Demonstration projects of this kind typically take a long time to bring to market and whilst the panel was encouraged and enthused by the concept the discussion rapidly gravitated to the issues around the relatively low utilisation of established public sector frameworks. With representation from LHC, the Central Housing Investment Consortium (CHIC) and Procure Plus, frameworks were well represented. It was agreed that whilst the established framework mechanisms addressed the right offsite technologies and that there was capacity within the various selected offsite manufacturers that are on these frameworks, it was also broadly agreed that the level of uptake and use of the offsite frameworks by public sector clients was slower than desired. To remedy this a strong ‘educational’ campaign is required to show how frameworks can be used and how the offsite supply chain can be encouraged to collaborate and work together to deliver more standardised processes and building types. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) approach was cited as a great example of engagement with both the offsite supply chain and the clients in that sector. Much of this type of learning and experience could be migrated to the housebuilding sector.

“Momentum is slow but there is movement forward,” said John Skivington, Chief Executive of LHC. “Action has been taken to remove barriers and hurdles and there appears to be greater confidence and pressure to invest than we have seen for a long time, but more engagement is needed to address land and planning delivery if our clients are to roll-out the housing volumes that are required.” The sentiment around the planning system was echoed around the table and it was agreed that this is the area where the panel would encourage Government to do more and to potentially link planning approval to building performance – especially around energy efficiency and carbon footprint. This point was passionately taken up by John Bedford of CHIC/ Ark Consultancy, a trained architect, but also someone who has been

2 intimately involved in developing and establishing an offsite manufacturing business within the public sector housing arena through his previous role with Accord Housing Group/ Local Homes. “It was a retrograde step when the Government abolished the Code for Sustainable Homes,” said John. “It stifled the uptake of offsite technologies which typically outperform traditional building methods as standard when it comes to energy efficiency.” Back on the subject of frameworks and procurement models, it was agreed that greater knowledge sharing and collaboration was required. From this small sites could benefit from larger demand created elsewhere and whereby on a regional basis the aggregation of demand was more transparent – this could encourage greater interest from the offsite supply chain based on guaranteed volume not talk! Both local authorities and registered providers will have a significant role to play here, by developing land-led schemes with sites that are identified as being suitable for offsite technology deployment. However, a greater confidence is required before these stakeholders would move from pilot schemes to full-on volume developments. Capacity – can you supply it? The issue of capacity within the offsite manufacturing sector is one often debated, at which point the assembled manufacturers unanimously agreed

that this would be a nice problem to have. With representation from Fusion Building Systems (light steel frame technology), Brooke Homes (volumetric modular SIPS technology), Extraspace Solutions and ilke Homes (both volumetric steel technology providers) it soon became clear that everybody is up for the challenge of delivering housing at scale and would be prepared to invest further based on strong pipeline visibility. “We are not frightened of investment,” said Mike Fairey of Fusion Building Systems. “If we see the opportunity for expansion and growth we will grasp it with both hands, but we have seen numerous pledges of volume demand over many years of our business activity and much of what we have been ‘promised’ has not materialised as work in our production facility.” A point echoed strongly by Paul Tierney, Managing Director of Extraspace Solutions, adding: “We would have no trouble in investing in a new production facility dedicated to volumetric modules for application within the residential sector, but we would not do it without greater certainty of demand. We have invested in expanding our business activity within the education sector, based on the ESFA Framework that we are on for the delivery of schools and this has been a breath of fresh air for us – with clear visibility of strong demand profile, a clear and stable pricing framework and strong client leadership.”



NHBC ROUNDTABLE Relatively new to the offsite manufacturing sector Paddy Doyle, Managing Director of Brooke Homes said: “When all is said and done – a lot more is said than done! We have invested in a fixed overhead by establishing our own manufacturing facility and it is almost impossible to prevent losses if the factory is not operating within our optimal demand parameters. It is completely different to a traditional construction site, where the overhead can be turned off or turned down if there is a site issue or problems with start times. We have seen lots of interest in our offsite solution, but the volume is not coming through at the rate we would like. The transition process from traditional construction techniques to adopting offsite techniques is a long one, requiring early client engagement and an appreciation of the potentially long lead-times involved.” Commenting on their recent investment, Bjorn Conway, Chief Executive of ilke Homes added, “Investors in new offsite manufacturing facilities really do have to think long and hard about the scale of operation and whether the opportunities for scalability can be brought on stream as the demand profile rises. Offsite manufacturing facilities are complex beasts, requiring different skill-sets to traditional construction processes and we are focusing on ensuring that we acquire or develop the manufacturing skills needed to expand the business at a rapid rate. This will require us to work with intelligent clients who understand the dynamics of the manufacturing environment and the different requirement for work-inprogress payments, quality inspection regimes and site readiness.” Volume Dealers One of the key points raised regarding a potential reason for ‘lack of volume demand’ was that of location viability i.e. the fact that not all offsite construction methods are commercially viable in all parts of the country, due to variation in land value and build cost. It was mooted that perhaps the offsite industry could help to address at least 50% of this equation


3 by being able to offer consistent build costs irrespective of the final location for the technology. If this was aligned to a greater focus on turn-key solutions from offsite manufacturers, then there may be a greater opportunity to reduce build cost by negating contractor requirements and contractor margins. Either way, much of this will only be possible with greater economy of scale and the opportunities for the development of new towns and garden villages was seen by the panel as one that should be explored if the offsite supply chain could be brought to the ‘top table’. The panel were asked if there was a danger of the offsite manufacturing sector ‘overheating’ if the promised volumes were to materialise and if the


‘pull’ from other non-residential sectors were to continue to increase. All acknowledged that this risk exists but also that there are a myriad of ways in which this can be addressed through greater investment in facilities and in people/skills. One novel approach to the people/skills risk within the offsite supply chain has been introduced by Procure Plus and their partnership with Osco Homes, which is led by Gwen Beeken. “We wanted to keep as much of the economic benefit of using offsite construction techniques within our region,” said Gwen. “So we developed a relatively low-tech light steel frame construction method that uses local labour for fabrication, assembly and erection onsite. The main novelty is that we have directly connected our labour demand to the retraining and

Modern Methods of Construction We work with industry to help deliver long-lasting quality homes. n From component materials and design, to onsite installation and connection n System appraisal and acceptance n Inspection of the whole building to NHBC Standards n Backed by NHBC Buildmark warranty and insurance

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NHBC ROUNDTABLE ATTENDEES Chair: Darren Richards, Managing Director of Cogent Consulting John Bedford, Senior Consultant, ARK Consultancy/CHIC Gwen Beeken, Director, Procure Plus/Osco Homes Mike Fairey, Director, Fusion Building Systems James Duncan, Partner, Winckworth Sherwood Andy von Bradsky, Design & Delivery Advisor, DCLG Paul Tierney, Managing Director, ExtraSpace Solutions Ellen Storrer, Housing Policy Manager, Greater London Authority John Skivington, Director, LHC Paddy Doyle, Managing Director, Brooke Homes Bjorn Conway, CEO, ilke Homes Graham Sibley, Market Development Manager, NHBC

4 reskilling of prisoners in the local area and we are therefore bringing new resources to the labour pool. These resources are typically practical people, many of whom just need a new start in life and it is incredibly gratifying to see them flourish within our new business operation.” With all this new activity around the offsite construction space the inevitable question of ‘risk’ was raised. Risk that existing manufacturers would over-trade, risk that new entrants might be under capitalised, risk that technology failure might occur, and it was agreed that many public-sector clients in particular are most likely risk averse. So the perception of risk might be at the heart of the slower uptake than desired. Whilst the panel generally felt that the risk of product failures on a large scale were least likely due to the system/product accreditation regimes that were now in place, it did feel that there was a significant need to engage with and ‘educate’ investors, valuers, funders (mortgage providers) and institutional lenders in the methods, technologies


and materials used by the modern day offsite manufacturing sector. Even if all the boxes are ticked it was felt that there are still misconceptions and reservations within these key stakeholders that need to be addressed over time and this is most likely to be done most effectively by the production of quantified case studies – real-life examples of offsite construction best-practice supported by tangible evidence and statistics. Asked whether the offsite manufacturing sector was likely to solve the housing crisis the panel generally agreed that the enthusiasm is there for these techniques to make a significant contribution to addressing the problem. A strong point was made that ‘additionality’ is what is required rather than a straight substitution of offsite construction techniques for traditional masonry construction techniques and that there is a place for all forms of construction within the housing sector. Final points were raised surrounding the significant contribution that a


wider educational campaign could do – with engagement in manufacturing facility tours, seminars, conferences, demonstration parks and exhibitions. These all provide key touch points for stakeholders at all levels within the housebuilding sector and enable them to engage with the offsite manufacturing sector and champion its many plus points. One of the biggest challenges that offsite manufacture faces is addressing cultural change and the complicated requirements of integrating onsite and offsite activities. This is changing quickly but it will only be directly affected by improved procurement models and those models must have the overriding feature – and one that was unanimously agreed – of quality not quantity. Many thanks to the NHBC for hosting the Roundtable Event and thanks to all participants for their time and contributions to the discussion. For more information on the NHBC visit: For more information on offsite related activity visit: Images: 01-04. Participants at the NHBC hosted Roundtable event

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The role that offsite manufacture can play in solving many of the UK’s housing problems has never been more prominent. Minister of State for Housing, Dominic Raab, outlines how the Government is taking steps to stimulate and encourage the greater use of offsite methods. technologies to guarantee acceptance of the final homes for warranty and mortgages. The working group has made great progress in its first few months, and is aiming to be in a position to launch the scheme later this year. This work is a key part of making sure that as use of offsite construction expands, quality remains at its heart. We need to stay vigilant in agreeing and enforcing technical standards, ensure we are not stifling innovation, and support smaller builders as well as larger developers to harness new technology. I hope this scheme will build confidence across the sector and open up mainstream mortgage finance and building insurance availability.

1 Since I became Housing Minister in January, I have been struck by the enormous opportunities to be far more innovative in the way we build new homes. From Tokyo to Stockholm, countries across the world are using new technologies to increase housing supply and deliver high quality homes. If we want to achieve our ambition to be building 300,000 homes a year and deliver homes that are fit for the future, then we must make sure we are at the cutting edge of this innovation. For too long, productivity and innovation in construction have lagged behind other industries. So, modern methods of construction (MMC) are a chance to change that, creating capacity in industry to build more homes, deliver greater economies of scale, and putting quality at the heart of the building process.


For consumers – whether renting or buying – these innovative practices can offer better homes, lower energy bills, fewer maintenance issues, smart technology as standard, and a much greater choice of design. Back in February 2017, the Government’s Housing White Paper recognised the potential to diversify the market and we have been actively implementing the commitments we made. Earlier this month, I heard from our MMC working group about their proposals to increase confidence in products, ensure homes built using new technology can access insurance and mortgages, and support the uptake of MMC across the housing market. This brilliant group, chaired by industry expert Mark Farmer, is developing a unified quality assurance scheme for assessing these


We are also providing finance for developers using MMC. Our £3bn Home Building Fund offers finance to these builders, in addition to custom builders and new entrants to the market. So far, more than £120m of loans have been agreed for projects using MMC. The Chancellor’s Autumn Budget added a further £1.5bn to the Fund, specifically targeted at supporting small and medium-sized builders who cannot access the finance they need to build. I have been told by many in the offsite industry that the number one factor to expansion is a clear and visible pipeline of demand. As Government, we have started to take steps to address this, including by encouraging the growth of sectors of the market that make greater use of MMC, such as Build to Rent and custom-build. Our Accelerated Construction Programme will help ensure surplus central and local authority land is built out more quickly, with a focus on support for SME builders and MMC.



2 The Affordable Homes Programme also encourages bidders to use innovative ways of building. We are working with the Construction Leadership Council to increase demand for these homes, improve standardisation of products and support developers. Last year we announced a presumption in favour of MMC across Government construction programmes. If possible, I want to do something similar for the housing industry. Most recently, the promotion of greater density in homebuilding – through the revised National Planning Policy Framework – is an opportunity to ensure regulatory reform allows the building sector to make the best use of innovation like MMC. A number of developers have made clear the opportunities for MMC in this area. There are challenges, of course, such as finding people with the right skills. There is a real opportunity for those already working in construction as well as new entrants. The more we modernise the process of building and make construction an exciting

place to work, the more we will keep experienced staff in the industry and attract a new, diverse workforce of talented young people. Government has commissioned Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to assess what skills are needed for MMC so that it can inform the curriculum for future training and apprenticeship schemes. There are still many out there who have yet to see how using MMC can benefit them and their customers. We want to support the industry to showcase what it can achieve, to demonstrate how new technology can improve quality and potentially drive cost efficiencies. In the coming months, Homes England will be working with key development partners on a range of pilot projects to showcase different technologies on a number of different sites. The purpose of the pilots is to provide a test bed for research and data collection to support both the objectives of our working group on assurance, insurance and finance and the wider industry. As Government we are technology neutral. We want to see solutions that

4 increase productivity and quality. We also want to challenge the public perception of MMC homes, and give customers information about new technology, how it works and what the benefits are. I am excited to see what the offsite industry has in store over the next few years. I believe it will play a key role in building better homes and stronger communities. Keeping quality at the heart of homebuilding will be an essential part of our strategy. Britain can become a world-leader in MMC – and I want to work with the sector to make that ambition a reality. For more information on the work of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government visit: Images: 01. Dominic Raab - Minister of State for Housing 02-04. The offsite industry is destined to play an enormous part in solving the UK’s housing crisis. Courtesy AHMM, Pocket Living and CCG (OSM)





Wetherby Building Systems has launched a new external wall insulation (EWI) system specifically designed to work with modular construction, to meet the expected demand for offsite housing solutions as the government actively encourages modern methods of construction. to a minimum and is therefore integral to any housing being built offsite.


2 The government White Paper ‘Fixing our Broken Housing Market’, published last year outlined a commitment to: “boost productivity and innovation by encouraging modern methods of construction in housebuilding”. It is expected that the industry will now see a steady rise in modular built housing to address the housing shortage in the UK. In addition to building houses faster, modular build also allows properties to be constructed to higher energy efficiency levels, with reducing heat loss a major aim for housebuilders utilising this technique. EWI is the most effective way to ensure heat loss is kept


Wetherby’s new modular build system has been specifically designed to work with factory precision construction, which can ensure walls are manufactured straight and level, unlike the uneven surfaces found in traditional build. The new system benefits from larger 1200mm x 1200mm high-density EPS insulation boards, with a unique tongue and groove interlocking configuration, offering superior strength and minimising water ingress, while significantly reducing installation times. With many housebuilders still looking for a traditional brick appearance, the Wetherby modular build system incorporates its range of real clay brick slip finish, ranging from 7mm-15mm in thickness in a variety of colours and finishes. Unlike alternative brick slip systems available, which often comprise a false acrylic brick finish, the Wetherby product is manufactured and fired in the same way as traditional clay bricks, providing a genuine brick finish. This also provides a lightweight and durable system that is compatible with a range of popular offsite construction methods including: steel and timber frame, insulated concrete formwork (ICF), SIPS and Durisol systems. To further reduce installation times, the innovative insulation boards are ribbed to provide a course for the brick slips, ensuring they can be quickly installed in line and level. The new modular build system can be applied to a property from start to finish within eight hours, compared with 2-3 days with a traditional EWI system. Commenting on the new system, Wetherby’s Technical Manager, Joe Ragdale, said: “We have increasingly


been receiving enquiries about our systems for modular build projects over the last 12-18 months and so we have developed on our existing system specifically to meet that customer need. The whole premise of offsite construction is to reduce build times and so we have developed a completely new system that aids speed of installation, while retaining the exceptional energy efficiency properties. With the government now actively encouraging this construction technique, we can offer a high performing, energy efficient system that reduces installation times and offers the appearance of genuine brick.”

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Images: 01-02. The Wetherby modular build system incorporates its range of real clay brick slip finish

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Whether the construction industry has the manpower and skills to achieve the Government’s target of adding an extra 300,000 new homes per annum to the housing stock for the next decade is often queried. Gary Ramsay spoke to Darren Richards, Managing Director of offsite experts, Cogent Consulting about what is genuinely achievable. days and dedicated training sessions through the Offsite Academy. Cogent has also developed a partnership arrangement with Futurebuild – formerly Ecobuild, the UK’s largest and longest established building technologies event – to ensure that offsite thinking is firmly at the heart of the event.

1 Since the vague and misleading phrase of ‘modern methods of construction’ (MMC) was first coined by Lord Rooker, Minister for Housing for the Labour Government in power at the turn of the millennium, it has recently become synonymous as the saviour of a skillsstarved housebuilding industry and the present Government’s favoured tool to turn around an ailing sector. There is no doubt that Government policy has given a major boost to manufacturers and designers of offsite systems, even though the adoption of offsite methods is already widespread. “Ten years ago, there were relatively few UK manufacturers operating within the offsite arena - today there are more than 400,” says Darren. “Cogent calculates the UK offsite market is worth about £10 billion and growing


at something like 30% per annum. Clients are now pushing contractors to provide offsite solutions, but the construction team set-up is usually very traditional, with contractor, QS, architect and engineer playing their usual roles. Even now many projects that employ offsite methods often start out as traditional designs.” To persuade people to design for offsite methods from the outset, Cogent has joined forces with publisher of Offsite Magazine Radar Communications, to create a series of umbrella initiatives that hope to unite the various emerging technologies and to promote offsite principles throughout the supply chain. These initiatives include seminar and conference programmes, study tour activities, manufacturing facility open


As the Government’s continues its commitment to offsite manufacture, demand for offsite methods are strongest in the social/affordable housing sector and with local authorities now re-entering the housing development arena, the demand is set to grow more rapidly. “The pressure is now really on,” says Darren “The Government wants the registered providers and local authorities to build 60,000 units next year and it wants 50% of them to be built using ‘modern methods’.” The speculative housebuilders in the private sector are not far behind the registered providers in exploring new methods. All the top 10 housebuilders are exploring the use of offsite methods and some have invested heavily in their own systems. Cogent recently facilitated an overseas Study Tour for Barratt Developments – the UK’s largest housebuilder – which was described as ‘truly inspiring’ by the Barratt Chief Operating Officer, Steven Boyes. Full details of the Study Tour and its related findings are covered in this issue – see p52. So far, the biggest investment in offsite production made by a speculative housebuilder is Space4, the company set up originally by Westbury Homes, which was acquired by Persimmon.


2 Berkeley Group will soon be following suit with their own volumetric modular housing facility, and several registered providers such as Swan Housing and Places for People are entering the offsite manufacturing segment. This is all following on from the investment made by L&G Homes in their own offsite manufacturing facility and the collaboration between Keepmoat and Elliott Group to launch ilke Homes. Systems such as Space4 – a panelised as opposed to volumetric system – are especially popular with commercial housebuilders, despite the fact that they require significant site work to install and complete them. This is partly because many panelised systems are essentially extensions of timber frame. The studwork frames are insulated, and both internal and external skins applied in the factory instead of onsite. This is a natural evolution for the housebuilders, who are already geared up for timber frame construction. But panelised systems, including SIP solutions also offer greater design flexibility and are more readily able to accommodate floorplan variations than volumetric systems. While timber frame has been a longstanding and successful offsite method, arguably the fastest-growing offsite technology is in lightweight steel frame. The popularity of this offsite technology is underpinned by the emergence of the proposed Steel Frame Association – a stand-alone trade body that will work in partnership with the Steel Construction Institute (SCI) to help grow the market and to deal with any technical impediments that may emerge as applications widen.


COGENT CONSULTING As leading experts in the field of offsite manufacturing and construction, Cogent Consulting offers independent advice on exploiting innovative offsite techniques. Cogent’s multi-disciplinary approach delivers more efficient manufacturing and construction processes, with new ways of tackling the challenges faced by the built environment. Through an unparalleled breadth of skills, the offsite experts at Cogent can help harness the power of offsite technology to dramatically improve project delivery and performance. As sector specialists, Cogent work with offsite manufacturers, clients, architects, contractors and project managers to ensure that any project embracing offsite technology is optimised and involves minimal risk.

“Timber has a lot going for it, but steel is catching up,” says Darren. “In 2015 we knew of only four manufacturers of load-bearing steel framing systems but today there are in excess of 20 in the UK. Cogent was asked to facilitate a range of industry discussions and debates around the steel frame sector to establish demand for a standalone representative body and the enthusiasm for this within the sector was palpable. This really demonstrates the confidence and buoyancy of the sector.” For many, volumetric modular is the ultimate expression of offsite manufacture. The more that can be achieved in the factory, the better and safer the process becomes overall. Whilst this is true, we are yet to see pipelines large enough within the housing sector to address the acknowledged cost premium associated with volumetric modular technology. “That day will come,” adds Darren. “As demand is aggregated in the public sector and there is a greater gravitational pull towards standardised footprints then the economies of scale will be realised and a commercial tipping point will be reached.

“Much of the new housing envisaged by the current Government will, ideally, be built on brownfield sites in urban areas. And if the problem at hand is that of an acute shortage of affordable housing, then there’s no doubt that the quicker and more cheaply we can build, the better.” “For certain we will see the manufacturing supply base continuing to grow to meet the quite incredible demand for these factory-based building methods. We should see those manufacturing organisations already serving the industry growing both their capacity and capability to offer enhanced quality and proven product ranges. These companies will continue to invest in sophisticated manufacturing plant and advanced quality management systems that are essential to deliver modern standards of product performance. The future of construction is in the factory and we are on an exciting journey there.” For more information visit: Images: 01-03. The nature of UK housing production is being changed by the greater use of offsite methods. Courtesy ilke Homes





Modular construction already has a place in meeting the current housing needs. However, it comes with different fire safety challenges to traditional methods of construction. as well as post-occupation manuals that meet the needs of the RRO, reduces the risk of inadequate and ineffective maintenance. However, maintenance has two challenges: the ability to service the item without compromising the integrity and having sufficient budget to invest and make sure replacement works are carried out to the required standards when needed, including fire-doors.

1 Getting it right is vital to its acceptance as a mainstream method of providing this much-needed housing. Fire Safety is key, whether under Approved Document B (ADB), BS 9999 or BS 9991. Detection, alarms and suppression sit alongside passive fire protection and smoke control to give sufficient time for safe evacuation of occupants. Design Compartmentation is a fundamental principle in the fire safety of buildings. Fire Compartments contain and prevent the spread of fire. For this to work, walls and structural elements need to maintain their integrity in a fire for a defined period. Attention to detail at manufacturing and installation is key as fire and smoke will get through even small gaps and spaces in walls, ceilings and floors, so getting the fire stopping right is essential. Consideration also needs to be given to in-life and maintenance works such as upgrades, unit replacements, cabling and plumbing alterations.

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Design and manufacturing tolerances may need onsite alignment at the assembly stage to ensure the systems will perform as designed and specified. Connection and continuity of all services at the fire boundary therefore needs to be simple and effective to account for such tolerances. Build Key challenges exist in ensuring a design can be effectively realised onsite. A firewall needs to be effective from both sides - plumbing, ventilation, and other services including electrical and data services need to be lined up to ensure the fire compartment’s ongoing integrity. Services detailing needs a high level of attention for ‘drop-in-units’ so they align without significant post-installation work. Consideration is also needed for complete replacement of a module, should the future need arise. Maintain Ongoing maintenance and ‘in-life replacement’ must be allowed for. As an example, fire dampers, detection and alarm systems all need to be regularly tested to ensure effective operation. Section 38 documentation


The future It is predicted that over 92% of a growing UK population will be living in cities and towns by 2030. This has led to pressure for greater densification and a push towards taller buildings. Research and development has already led to the design and trialing of significantly higher modular construction. A mix of concrete, steel and engineered timber such as cross laminated timber (CLT) has allowed modular designs to already exceed 30 storeys. Work continues with a sustained focus on the detailed design and construction of the individual components in order for these designs to succeed. Design it right, build it right, maintain it right and you will not only have a fire-safe building but an attractive system of construction that will inevitably have an increasing importance in contributing towards official housing targets and the demands of a growing population. IFC Group have the experience and expertise to make this happen. For more information visit: Images: 01. Courtesy of HTA design




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FUTURE LIVING RIGHT NOW of the building – eliminating the need to add bolt-on technologies in the future. Sommar Place replicates Swedish lifestyle inside and out. The timber design maximises the available space, with each house designed as an elegant, contemporary, welcoming home, combining high ceilings and large windows, utilising the aesthetics the really bring timber into its own. Elegant Scandinavian design, combined with the natural beauty of quality timber, precision technology and seamless technology makes these houses comfortable, stylish and environmentally responsible.

1 With the market share for timber frame standing at 28%, and further 5% growth expected between now and 2020, timber is fast becoming the construction material of choice in the UK. A key new entrant to the housing market is Trivselhus, the Swedish housebuilding subsidiary of Södra – the largest forestry co-operative in Sweden. Trivselhus, What House? Sustainable Developer of the Year 2016, is working with Places for People, 2016 Building Awards Housebuilder of the Year, and one of the largest property and leisure management, development and regeneration companies in the UK, to develop Sommar Place, a £18 million development of low-energy smart homes comprising 39 highly energyefficient, eco-friendly homes on the edge of its award-winning Brooklands development in Milton Keynes. This will be the first full timber frame development in the UK featuring integrated, cutting-edge smart home technology from Apple fitted as standard, with further development opportunities being sought between Places for People and Trivselhus. As well as cutting edge technology, timber’s inherently energy-efficient qualities will allow Trivselhus the luxury of an additional design feature on


2 what is sure to become a prestigious development. Sommar Place is a truly forward-thinking project, delivering the very best in Swedish energy-efficient design, combined with the latest in smart home technology – effectively future-proofing these homes for decades to come. Jeremy English, Sales Director at Södra, says: “We’re proud that timber is playing such a fundamental role in bringing housing into the future. We believe the timber frame just adds more benefits, from providing a truly sustainable construction material, to giving a much faster, flexible build, and elegant end-product.” No house can be called a home of the future without futureproof ecocredentials. Trivselhus houses are built to sustain even the harshest Swedish climate. Its secret is Climate Shield®: a superior level of mineral wool insulation and airtightness built into the closed panel timber frame walls during construction in Sweden. This ‘fabric first’ manufacturing gives Sommar Place’s houses exceptional thermal performance, keeping its occupants warm in the winter and cool in the summer. These qualities mean space heating demand can be reduced by up to 40% over more traditionally built properties, while lasting for the lifetime


Apple HomeKit accessories have been fitted as standard so that new residents of Sommar Place can move in and make themselves at home from day one. Fully interconnected throughout each home, the technology is completely customisable and can be tailored to a family’s individual preferences to complement and enhance day-to-day living while ensuring all-important privacy and security. By using the Apple Home app on their iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, interacting with Siri on these devices plus HomePod, and Apple TV, residents can make their home best work for them with the ease of use, seamless interoperability and superior level of end-to-end encrypted security that Apple is renowned for. “To date, this level of connected technology integrated into the build of a new property has only been available in multi-million-pound, bespoke smart homes,” says Ken Forster, Managing Director of Trivselhus. “It’s our mission at Trivselhus to develop family homes that have a positive impact on how people live. Technology is essential in easing people’s lives, so it is important that moving forward family homes are designed with smart home technology at their fore.” For more information visit:

Images: 01-02. Sommar Place is a seamless combination of closed panel timber frame construction and cutting edge digital technology

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market – including a maiden modular construction venture at Moho in Manchester in 2006 – we launched our hoUSe concept in 2016.”

1 With a mantra of ‘space not rooms’ and a glowing reputation for delivering a new lease of life to empty mills and warehouses, Urban Splash has long held a belief that offsite construction can deliver huge value in creating a new breed of living spaces across the UK. Award-winning regeneration company Urban Splash grabbed many headlines recently when it announced that it taken control of modular construction specialists SIG Building Systems – the modular offsite construction unit of SIG plc – and announced its expansion as Urban Splash Modular Ltd, with additional investment from architect and broadcaster George Clarke, alongside seasoned North West tech entrepreneur and founder of, Noel McKee. At the heart of this move is hoUSe. Urban Splash’s latest residential concept that is set to revolutionise the UK’s attitudes to housing where buyers can configure their home exactly as they want them. Firstly they choose a size (either 1000 sqft or 1500 sqft) and 42

then pick the arrangement of spaces within the house and make selections from a range of specifications as they go through the purchase process. All homes also have a secure parking space and a garden. hoUSe is designed to be 25% bigger than a typical newbuild and is architectdesigned and super-flexible. What has driven Urban Splash to develop its hoUSe approach to placemaking and improving housing choices for potential owners? “Modular has always been an obvious draw for us,” says Urban Splash Director Simon Gawthorpe. “Especially as it’s proven to work so well for us in urban environments. Having spent more than two decades bringing innovative design to the UK housing


In order to deliver the important vision of customer choice, Urban Splash needed to rethink how it was going to build the hoUSe concept and make houses with better space standards. Is modular construction a way of offering customers a variety of housing options? And something that other housing providers can do to ease the perennial UK housing crisis? Certainly, offsite manufacture is increasingly seen as the optimum way for the UK construction industry to provide better quality buildings generally. “For Urban Splash and developers in general, we have the opportunity to do what manufacturers are doing for other sectors and finally take a 21st century approach to mass customisation – in the same way that the car industry has,” says Simon. “While most other sectors are becoming more and more industrialised – with many mass goods being made more efficiently in factories – housing is one of the last bastions adopting quite outdated processes. “Now is the time for this to change, there’s been disruption in so many sectors and modular is housing’s opportunity. It’s not been broadly adopted at all in the UK yet and now is the time for us to either grab hold of the opportunities that come with offsite or be left behind. Urban Splash has long been synonymous with innovation, so we want to be the business breaking through the barriers. “The advantages of modular are vast for many reasons. For customers, there’s a new alternative away from the identikit solutions provided by mass housebuilders – they have the power to design and determine the layout of their home, which is then made in a factory, and transported as a preassembled module to site where it is craned into position. “Our first modular product – the Town House – gives customers choice thanks to design templates which allow them to choose from either a two-storey, 1,000sq ft, home or a three-storey, 1,500sq ft home with varying layouts to suit their needs. An added USP is the option to change homes over time thanks to non-load bearing walls.

HOUSING The aesthetic of hoUSe is relatable too, we’ve simply transferred the much loved features of Victorian and Georgian architecture – think three-floor houses with high ceilings and large windows, into a modular blueprint.


Hear more from Tom Bloxham at Explore Offsite North West on 12 September –

“These design options come from years of R&D which saw us evolve a prototype for a modular, family Town House that could be created to customer specifications in a factory environment. We’ve definitely delivered that. There are advantages in the modular construction process – more custom options, increased choice on materials, more accuracy and precision from tighter tolerances make for a better product. In time the production process will become quicker and the end product will become cheaper.”


With its HQ in in Manchester, Urban Splash operates across England. Its agreement with SIG Building Systems saw it absorb SIG’s modular factory in the East Midlands, with all the IP and patents of its modular housing system plus around 70 staff. At the time Urban Splash Chairman Tom Bloxham MBE said: “Urban Splash is committed to expanding its offsite construction capacity and this purchase is a way to vertically integrate our business and give us control of the production of our hoUSes. It is a testament to our commitment to, and investment in, modular housing. “SIG has been a great company to work with, but as the factory gradually filled up with Urban Splash product, it became clear to all that its natural home was with Urban Splash. We will continue to work with SIG’s excellent supply chain and welcome our great new colleagues from SIG into the Urban Splash team. We are committed to delivering these homes, because we know that the accelerated use of modular will help give this country more much-needed homes and will help meet Government aspirations and targets.” The benefits of the integration of the SIG production capacity will bring huge efficiencies and streamline Urban Splash’s housing delivery model “The

4 vertical integration of the factory into our business means that we oversee the process from design to construction to delivery, adds Simon. “It takes out factors out of our control. We want to keep investing in the process, creating more homes – we have the capacity to create up to 400 per year.” Urban Splash has long been considered one of the much vaunted ‘disrupters’ of the traditional housing market. For the hoUSe concept, offsite construction has allowed for greater quality control and project management efficiency. The design and delivery approach adopted by the ‘new’ Urban Splash Modular Ltd

business, encapsulates everything that offsite construction and factorycontrolled methods of manufacture can provide. It is only through these types of far-reaching changes to the norm that the quality and numbers of new homes that the UK requires will be achieved. For more information visit:

Images: 01-03. hoUSe is breaking the mould in housing choice. 04. Moho in Castlefield, Manchester. Courtesy shedkm





The housing sector is in need of radical change in the ways houses are designed and delivered. Andy Bellerby, Associate at shedkm, illustrates how offsite manufacture can provides a fresh and direct approach to building homes and communities.

1 In response to a brief being driven by the current housing supply, designers and developers are being challenged to create well designed mass produced modular housing. Within this industry however, developers are reluctant to commit the time and money necessary to achieve this. Thankfully for shedkm we have been approached over the years by those developers, such as Urban Splash, who have been prepared to take up the challenge. Within this industry however, developers are reluctant to commit the time and money necessary to achieve this. Thankfully for shedkm we have been approached over the years by those developers, such as Urban Splash, who have been prepared to take up the challenge. Collaboration with both clients and consultants is a key component to establishing unique and forwardthinking solutions to such briefs and challenges. Over the years shedkm has provided new concepts for various housing typologies through the implementation of radical and innovative design strategies and construction techniques. With regards to offsite construction we pioneered the first modular apartments for the private housing sector with a project called Moho, short for modular homes, using a groundbreaking method for delivering residential homes back in 44

2 2005. Each apartment formed a factory built module craned onto site within months. Since then we have moved on to a new concept in volumetric family housing with Urban Splash called Town House. As a direct challenge to the established typologies of the major UK housebuilders, Town House is a new concept for mass housing. It exploits clever modular planning to create spacious, flexible and modern customer-designed homes and is factory-built to order, before being delivered to site fully finished. To achieve this, over four years of research and prototyping have gone into developing the product, now in full production. Factory manufacturing offers the control required to deliver consistently higher quality results. Higher standards can be achieved through meticulous construction precision that are near impossible to match on-site. Conditions are secure and controlled whilst most building sites are plagued by the issues associated with more traditional, linear construction methods. Such as inconsistent labour recruitment and performance, exposure to the elements and restrictive programmes. From our involvement with Moho and Town House we have experienced the many facets of establishing a


3 successful, cost-effective delivery of offsite modular construction. From innovative design and effective prototyping to an efficient production line, considered delivery and a succinct programme between site infrastructure and factory manufacturing. We have learnt that to be successful and reap the rewards of offsite construction you have to exploit its inherent advantages and benefits to their maximum potential, something which Town House is striving to achieve. In doing so, offsite manufacturing can become a valuable asset in answering the call for any form of housing typology demand. The product we have been showcasing over recent years would not have been realised without the time and commitment of all involved. Like any product Town House will continue to evolve to suit market demand, customer feedback and respond to the refinement of building technologies and materials. This continues now the product is in full production with a continued improvement programme and the research and development of new typologies. As production increases and the process improves, the rewards will follow. For more information visit: Images: 01 - 03. The Town House is a blueprint for future housing and a challenge to established norms.

Delivering efficiency and competitive advantage using offsite technology We develop and improve: Business strategies Product & service portfolios Manufacturing operations Supply-chain integration Business processes Management systems Marketing strategies Sales routes to market

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SPEAKING VOLUMES ABOUT CONSTRUCTION You don’t need to be an industry insider to know there is a chronic shortage of housing in the UK. Oliver Lowrie, Co-Founder and Director of architectural practice, Ackroyd Lowrie explains why volumetric modular construction could provide several answers. and even furniture pre-installed at the production location. Internal and external finishes can be installed in the factory where quality can be monitored effectively.

1 The government has pledged to deliver one million new and affordable homes by the end of 2020 – a tall order given that only 184,000 were built in 2016-17. Productivity is on the up, and whilst that is cause for celebration, it is still only marginal. As an industry, we are pressured to provide 300,000 new homes each year to meet the goal of one million. Meanwhile, every heavy industry is facing the same challenges at the core: reduce waste, drive efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint.

such, adoption is growing in the UK. However, as is often the case, we have been fairly slow at seizing opportunities. Currently 15,000 volumetric homes are built each year in the UK. In contrast, our international counterparts are really beginning to maximise opportunities presented by volumetric construction and are driving creativity in every aspect of the design and build processes. In Japan, a quarter of homes are built offsite and in Sweden, more than 50% of all new detached homes are prefabricated.

In 2015, only 69% of projects were completed in budget and only 40% were completed on time, exacerbated by an aging population, insufficient training and a declining population of skilled, onsite labour. As the population grows and requirements develop, so too must our provision of services and crafts. As homebuilders, we are in a position to introduce a truly disruptive solution to the construction industry’s key challenges and also the social and economic issues fuelled by the housing crisis.

Volumetric housing is a quick, highquality, cost-effective offsite technique where entire blocks of apartment or homes are pre-manufactured in factory conditions. They are produced in a series of ‘volumes’, which are then transported to the site to be assembled and stacked, rather than ‘built’.

‘Modernise or die’ was the conclusion of the Farmer Review which assessed the state of the UK construction industry in 2016. Volumetric construction does just that and as 46

After drainage and foundations are laid, the entire building can be craned into place in modules. Less affected by poor weather conditions, onsite labour and supply chain delays, volumetric construction allows developers to deliver homes ‘just-in-time’ and with uncompromised quality. The volumes can be pre-clad and include windows, with kitchens, bathrooms


The legacy of post-War social housing haunts offsite construction, but advances in both the BIM modelling software used by architects, and the manufacturing capabilities of modern offsite fabricators means that beautiful, bespoke projects can be delivered in a streamlined way. At Ackroyd Lowrie, we use virtual reality headsets to allow our clients to explore a series of different options. These are then developed into a final proposal which is fully signed off by the client before being sent to the manufacturer for production. 70% of rework on all construction projects can be attributed to onsite redesigns, which can cause major delays, we can be hugely expensive in terms of time and financial spend, as well as being hugely wasteful in terms or materials and energy. Without factoring in the avoided delays of traditional builds, the volumetric route is still far quicker than onsite construction. So, whilst the housebuilding industry is not renowned for being particularly innovative, in offsite, volumetric housing we are confronted with something that will revolutionise the way we build homes and make a significant dent in the housing numbers we desperately need. Driving further adoption will only increase confidence, improve profitability and level the playing field for innovation in the property sector. For more information visit: Images: 01. Volumetric modular housing can be virtually indistinguishable from traditional build properties



When Chris Thompson, Managing Director of sustainable urban developers, Citu, realised that outdated construction methods would hold back his ambition to accelerate the transition to low carbon cities, he set out to revolutionise the way in which homes are designed and built in the UK.

1 This spring, work began on the construction of the first low carbon homes at our Climate Innovation District in Leeds’s South Bank. This marked a major milestone, not only for the scheme itself – which will be the largest ecologically pioneering district of this scale in the UK – but also for Citu and our ambition to build zero carbon neighbourhoods that provide healthier, smarter and betterconnected cities. The district marks the next chapter in Citu’s story, which began back in 2004 when I founded the business. With my background in construction and a passion for urban design, I wanted Citu to be a company which challenges industry norms and embraces innovation and new technology. This meant addressing the key issue which has led to the construction industry falling behind other sectors in 48

terms of innovation and productivity – and that’s inefficiency. The issue is two-fold: there’s inefficiency in terms of the quality of the product which causes heat loss and emissions from the houses themselves. But there is also inefficiency in terms of the construction process, caused by delays in transporting materials to site and poor communication between multiple contractors. Our first project, Greenhouse, involved the renovation of a former hostel in Beeston, close to Leeds city centre – creating a mixed-use building of 177 apartments, office spaces and leisure spaces. The scheme, one of the few developments in Leeds to go ahead during the recession, offers a whole range of eco-friendly elements including wind turbines, solar panels, ground source heating and rainwater harvesting to reduce energy and water use.


The success of Greenhouse (which is fully let) gave us the confidence to up-scale our ambition. Our next project, Little Kelham in Sheffield, is a development of 250 low-carbon apartments and family homes alongside repurposed listed buildings and commercial spaces. At first, we used a contractor to deliver the homes, but we quickly realised that traditional construction methods couldn’t achieve the high standards we’d set both in terms of efficiency and energy performance. We’d need to develop a model which integrates the entire supply chain so that we could control every element of the design and construction in-house. To do this, we had to look outside the construction industry for inspiration. I learned a lot from looking at companies like Tesla and Apple in terms of how they embrace innovation and control every element in the

HOUSING manufacture of their product. We’re now harnessing the best talent from a range of sectors, from digital coders and architects to universities and automotive experts, and repurposing their skills to change the way homes are built. We’re fortunate in Leeds that we have wealth of research and development opportunities with two major universities on our doorstep. We partnered with Leeds Beckett University to develop the Citu Home – a new timber framed housing system which will create one of the most airtight and energy efficient homes in the world. Having developed the product, our next challenge was increasing productivity. With Little Kelham well underway, we knew that we wanted to go bigger and better once again and forged ahead with plans to build an entire district which promotes a sustainable way of life. I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of taking a Scandinavian approach to place-making in helping create neighbourhoods that can withstand climate change and will outlive our generation, and the next. Well-being is at the heart of those neighbourhoods, combining homes that feel light, bright and well designed with outdoor spaces and innovative public spaces. That’s why we decided to work with leading Swedish architect, White Arkitekter, who are behind many of the progressive new neighbourhoods in Europe. The Climate Innovation District, which will offer the first family homes in Leeds city centre for almost a century, will include 520 low carbon homes alongside leisure, offices and climateresilient public realm, created on a 15-acre brownfield site close to Leeds city centre. Key to its success is Citu Works – a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility where the Citu Homes are now being manufactured under controlled conditions. We’ve also employed Citu Squads – teams of skilled tradespeople including plumbers, electricians and joiners who are employed full-time by Citu, alongside 24 apprentices recruited from Leeds College of Building. Every employee will benefit from ongoing training and development, creating a skilled workforce in low-carbon construction.



4 More local authorities and other developers are now looking to more sustainable approaches and there has been an explosion in offsite housing construction over the past 18 months. Most have gone down the modular route, but we’ve chosen to take the component route which gives us much more flexibility of design and greater control over the energy-performance of each property. I’ve long been inspired by the car manufacturing model where the product is built in a factory to exacting standards, to be delivered on time to a set price and quality. It’s one of the reason we hired our new Operations Manager, Steve Savage, ex manufacturing boss at BMW, to integrate this approach and streamline the construction process. When any business is innovating, they will come up against a number of challenges. The way in which we are approaching every element of the build is ground-breaking, from the architectural design of homes, the fabric performance, how we manufacture them and even the buyer experience, employing virtual reality technology to show customers inside before the home is built. The Climate Innovation District is still in its

early stages and there maybe further challenges ahead, but we want to lead by example and set the standard for a sustainable approach to place-making for generations to come. Once Citu Works is up to capacity producing 750 homes a year, we plan to sell the Citu Home to other developers and local authorities around the UK, offering a low-cost, climate-conscious solution to the UK’s housing crisis. To put it in perspective, if the Government’s target of 300,000 new homes built every year by 2050 were manufactured using our Citu Home design, we could reduce carbon emissions by more than 550 million tonnes compared to conventional methods of construction. Leeds is setting the pace for creating low carbon cities and with our approach, every newbuild housing development could be designed and manufactured in a way that accelerates this transition. For more information visit: Images: 01-03. Climate Innovation District 04. Citu Works facility





Paul Lang, Chief Executive of Caledonian Modular assesses how the latest advances in modular construction have the potential to solve the UK’s affordable housing shortage.



The UK’s population and the trend for smaller households is rising, both of which mean demand for housing will also continue to rise. In addition, analysis conducted as part of a twoyear investigation by the Resolution Foundation has found that millennials are struggling to get onto the property ladder. As a result they are being forced into shared housing or expensive rented properties that leave them with little chance of saving for a home.

To meet increasing demand, the government would need to commission the construction of approximately 250,000 new homes each year, through to 2030. Current annual construction levels sit around 50% of this figure, with only 63% of traditional construction projects delivered on time, and only 49% delivered to budget. It is clear to see that conventional building techniques, whilst still integral, cannot meet the challenge alone.

Many would expect this issue to be confined to larger cities such as London and Birmingham, however ownership among 25- to 34-yearolds has plummeted throughout the country. Ownership has fallen from 53% in 1984 to 26% in 2017 in Greater Manchester and from 54% to 25% in South Yorkshire. In the West Midlands it has dropped from 45% to 20%, from 50% to 28% in Wales and from 55% to 27% in the South-East. In outer London, the proportion has also fallen to just 16%. All the while, the number of homeless households in England has also risen to more than 50,000 a year, with many of the people affected living in temporary accommodation and almost 2,000 living without a roof over their heads.

This creates a unique opportunity for offsite construction to become the key building method in the housing industry, with analysts predicting that 2018 will be the breakthrough year for modular. More than 15,000 homes in Britain are built annually using this method. However, according to 2017’s housing white paper, the government intends to increase utilisation of offsite technologies, and increase access to finance, with the aim of raising the total number of modular homes built each year to 100,000 by 2020.

Hear more from Caledonian Modular at Explore Offsite South West on 11 July –


In preparation, we recently signed a collaborative partnership agreement with Arcadis, the leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Focusing specifically on the residential sector, we will work alongside the company to develop new modular designs and to build additional capacity in the commercial and technical delivery of new housing. As part of the partnership, Arcadis will bring residential insight and expertise,


along with design and construction management support. This will allow us to focus on our manufacturing and delivery capacity. It means that, together, we can offer a fully integrated housing solution, from initial design concept, through to manufacturing, construction and project completion. Compared to building using traditional methods, the residential sector benefits enormously from offsite construction. More than 80 - 90% of the work can be completed in a factory, like our Newark based facility, a quality controlled environment, unaffected by the weather or skill’s shortages on site. This significantly reduces the likelihood of delays to the project. In addition, offsite offers minimal disruption to the surrounding community by ensuring rapid build and significantly reducing deliveries and activities to site. Suitable to more than just housing, offsite construction delivers a raft of benefits in all sectors - schools, hotels, communal buildings, further and higher education, retail, commercial outlets, and health, amongst others. Offering a full turnkey solution, we design and build to an exacting specification, offer a wide range of finishes and roofing options, and a design that fits seamlessly alongside any existing structures. Offsite construction solutions are able to create high quality, affordable and cost effective housing in a matter of weeks and the government’s decision to favour offsite construction has the ability to make a step change in the supply of affordable housing. For more information visit: Image: 01-02. Modular technology can boost housing numbers to meet the increasing demand



Knowledge and performance was the mantra for the recent European research trip undertaken by a group of Barratt Developments Board Directors and Senior Managers, plus key UK suppliers, who all visited Germany and Holland to study offsite manufacturing techniques and new housebuilding technologies. UK’s largest housebuilder we like to think we lead the housebuilding industry in this area, not least because of the breadth of technologies we are actively trialling and the strength of our supply chain relationships. Our move to embrace offsite technology is also based on addressing the long term skills shortage that we are seeing in the UK housing sector and to help ensure predictability of build cost and programmes. It’s vital that all of the technologies we use and offsite supply chain partners that we select can work with us effectively to deliver the high quality that we need.”

1 The intensive three day research trip, organised by Barratt Developments plc, Radar Communications and leading offsite experts Cogent Consulting, took in a range of offsite manufacturing facility visits, show villages, demonstration houses and live construction sites with the aim of understanding new technologies and techniques in two European countries that have parallel housing demand profiles and many similarities with the UK in terms of traditional construction skills shortages. The purpose of the trip was primarily for knowledge exchange and reciprocal visits will be hosted by Barratt Developments plc and the key supply chain partners in the UK later this year. 52

Preparing for the Future With a clear goal of achieving 20% offsite construction by 2020 the research trip was arranged three years in to a significant offsite strategy that has seen Barratt Developments plc embrace timber frame technology, floor cassettes, panelised roofing systems, large format masonry walling systems, light steel frame technology and precast garages. Bathroom pods and prefabricated utility cupboards (PUCs) are also being deployed in their apartment developments, primarily within the London region. “We are absolutely committed to offsite and MMC (modern methods of construction) technologies,” said Steven Boyes, Chief Operating Officer at Barratt Developments plc. “As the


The process of selecting the technologies and offsite supply chain partners that Barratt Developments plc currently work with in the UK, which includes Stewart Milne Timber Systems (SMTS), SIG Roofspace, Fusion Building Systems, H+H and CRH Tarmac, has been a structured one. It has involved completely open dialogue, prototyping and trial builds, with Barratt Developments’ technical and innovation team managing the deployment and measuring key performance indicators in collaboration with the selected regional management team. Oliver Novakovic, Technical and Innovation Director at Barratt Developments plc, has spearheaded the offsite technology and supplier selection approach since joining the company in 2014. “Our approach to implementing our offsite strategy has been one of ensuring that we create the right culture for innovation, communication and dialogue with potential offsite manufacturers,” says Oliver. “We recognise that the offsite


2 supply chain holds an immense amount of knowledge about their processes, materials and technologies and the key for us is to tap in to that knowledge rather that approaching them with a dictatorial culture. They recognise that we know housebuilding and that we understand the demands, likes and dislikes of our customer base. We also intimately understand our cost base and the performance specifications that are required from these new technologies.” As the UK’s largest housebuilder Barratt Developments plc is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, having built over 450,000 homes since 1958. In 2017 the company completed nearly 17,500 homes, both private and social/affordable, with typically 350-375 live sites at any point in time. These sites are delivered by 27 operating Divisions that directly employ over 6,000 people and support over 11,000 sub-contractors and suppliers. This scale of operation presents real opportunities for supply chain engagement based on volume demand, but it also presents technical, cultural and communication challenges when seeking to implement any new or modern method of construction. Embedding Collaboration and Quality Barratt Developments plc prides itself on the Home Builders Federation (HBF) 5 Star rating which they have held consistently for the past nine years – the only major national housebuilder to do so. “This is very important to us,” says Michael Finn, Group Design and Technical Director at Barratt Developments. “When we

innovate we have a 100% focus on maintaining the high quality of our product. Not only must the offsite techniques that we implement provide more predictable processes, they must also meet or exceed Building Regulation requirements without any cost premium. But for us the high quality is the most important factor and non-negotiable.”

Throughout the research trip the focus on quality and the pride in their product is clear, not only in the presentations they gave to the host companies but also in the fact that Barratt Developments bring Steve Wood, Chief Executive and Neil Smith, Head of Standards, Innovation and Research at the National House Building Council (NHBC) along on the tour. “The NHBC is a really important body in UK housebuilding,” says Steven Boyes. “They play a vital role in policing innovation and standards within our industry through desk analysis and building control inspections. We have an excellent relationship with them and they help us to embrace new innovations in a controlled manner. The fact that both Steve and Neil were happy to give up their valuable time to accompany us on this research trip reflects the close links that we have with the NHBC and we really value their expertise and insights.” The innovation culture and openness with key supply chain partners that Barratt Developments plc have

3 nurtured is clear in the attendance of some of their key UK offsite technology supply chain partners on the trip too, with Alex Goodfellow, Group Managing Director and Stewart Dalgarno, Director of Product Development at SMTS and Jeremy Greenwood, Managing Director of Tarmac, being invited to join the group and to participate in the knowledge transfer process. By inviting these key offsite supply chain partners, Barratt Developments plc has actively encouraged reciprocal visits by host companies to ensure mutual benefit. “Complete openness and transparency with our supply chain is an imperative for us,” says Oliver Novakovic. “When we tabled the idea of travelling overseas to search for best practice offsite techniques in other countries it was important that our UK partners were involved, not only to assure them that the research trip is not a threat to their business but also to provide them with the opportunity of knowledge exchange and to identify process and technology improvements too.” Germany Starting in Weinsheim, Germany, the first host company visited was Streif, manufacturers of advanced timber systems in panelised format. Streif has been at the forefront of offsite manufactured building in Germany since 1929, leading the way in quality, design and innovation and delivering over 100,000 buildings since its formation. The technology manufactured using semi-automated timber frame equipment has many parallels with structural timber technology in the UK, but Streif take the concept of advanced timber frame



OFFSITE STUDY TOUR further by factory-fitting insulation, windows, internal fire linings, external sheathing boards, external insulation and cladding/render solutions, as well as requisite breather membrane and vapour control layers, choosing to focus on factory-added value rather than pure volume output.

This focus on added value means that Streif have a turnover of circa £195 million from a volume output of just over 300 housing units and education buildings per annum. Each of the units are highly customised and there are many parallels with the UK custom and self-build sector.


Completed panels are transported to site in bespoke stillages – described as ‘toast racks’ – loaded inside curtainsided vehicles for complete protection during shipping. Floor and roof cassette systems are delivered in packs lying flat on the vehicle bed (like the norm in the UK) and completely wrapped in polythene during the delivery process. All the panels and floor cassettes contain conduits and draw wires for accommodating second fix electrics and many panels are preinstalled with plumbing pipework and slimline cisterns, thus reducing the dependency on follow-on trades. This cavity-less construction method is the norm in Germany but is rare in the UK and different climatic conditions would need to be considered in exploring the fitting of external cladding solutions in the factory. Likewise, the integration of building services within the primary structure, rather than behind the inner skin of the finishing board, minimises the level of future adaptation for the property, a point that was not lost on the Barratt Developments group – stating that there is a level of expectation around the adaptability of housing in the UK and any innovations around advanced panel techniques would need to consider this. Witnessing the installation of the Streif system on a construction project local to the manufacturing facility it was clear that the structural timber ‘kit of parts’ was well engineered, with tight tolerances and demonstrable robustness. The selling model adopted by Streif, and many of their 54

5 competitors in Germany, requires a wide network of ‘sales agents’ operating from 33 offices throughout the country. This selling model is underpinned by networks of Show Villages – typically shared by a wide range of competing companies – a distinctive feature of the customer interface in Germany. “Their delivery is very different to ours,” observed Steven Boyes. “We develop our sites based on evaluating future customer demand and predicting likely sales rates. We take on the commercial risk and in many instances are negotiating on land several years in advance of achieving planning permission. In Germany the landowner approaches the system building supplier and has a choice around the method of build and who they choose to procure their house from. It is a fiercely competitive market for the offsite manufacturers


who fight for each unit. Whereas we will typically purchase around 1,600 timber frame units per annum and as such can leverage greater quality control, standardisation and volume procurement benefits.” To understand this model further the next stop took in the FertighausWelt Show Village in Cologne, where over 20 houses – each from different offsite manufacturers – are set in their own fully landscaped plots and fully furnished internally. From this visit it is clear to see why the show villages are the largest source of orders for new home suppliers in Germany, as the scale of investment is truly impressive, with marketing costs typically absorbing circa 16% of revenues. Demonstration houses are required to be upgraded regularly and are typically replaced at around seven year intervals.


6 The FertighausWelt Show Village is truly impressive and discussions within the group mooted that there may be potential in the UK for offsite manufacturers of housing systems to collaborate on creating ‘demonstration parks’ that might be suited to consumer education around offsite construction, whilst engaging industry professionals for the purpose of debate, knowledge sharing and learning. Netherlands The next stop was Wognum in the Netherlands for a manufacturing facility tour and technical discussion with Ursem Modular Building Systems – one of the largest producers of volumetric modular buildings and bathroom/kitchen pods in Holland. For over 35 years, Ursem has built a reputation for delivering high quality products by adhering to three simple principles – they only employ very skilled and well trained production staff, they apply high tech manufacturing methods which enables them to produce within extremely narrow tolerances and quality control plays a central role in their production process. Ursem provides permanent building structures with a lifespan that is equivalent to traditional construction, with equal warranties and designed for the most demanding types of use. “Ursem was a recommendation from Cogent Consulting based on their unique portfolio of material use and techniques to provide volumetric modules that are engineered for a range of applications,” says Oliver Novakovic. “Ursem have delivered some excellent medium and highrise modular buildings for student accommodation, hotels and residential apartments. Our interest is in exploring opportunities for delivering our apartment projects where we

7 are likely to exceed the structural limitations of timber and light steel frame technology.” The benefits of volumetric modular construction in the delivery of apartments have been covered widely in the UK press and by speakers on the offsite conference circuit. Offsite Magazine has covered many of the most iconic and ground breaking projects, primarily within the student accommodation and the PRS/BTR sectors and the benefits are widely understood, but Barratt Developments plc, along with many other leading developers, are yet to make the move to embrace this technology due to concerns over potential build cost premiums.

Consulting. “They have found a way of efficiently producing a mix of module types using consistent and repeatable manufacturing processes.” Ursem have invested heavily in mechanising their upstream structural panel processes and where appropriate they have invested time in developing key supply chain partners, particularly around precast base technology. The level of technology integration, including building services and where appropriate their own bathroom/kitchen pods, demonstrates a clear understanding of standardisation and design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) to achieve optimal efficiency in the production process.

UK volumetric module manufacturers typically offer one type of structural system and are likely to be wedded to one material type i.e. steel or timber, with a small number embracing a hybrid approach. But what is unique about Ursem and their approach is that they have developed a range of volumetric module solutions using a range of technologies to suit the bespoke demands of each project.

“The engineering capabilities of Ursem are clear to see,” says Michael Finn, Group Design and Technical Director of Barratt Developments. “It is impressive to see volumetric module production on this scale and with this level of investment to support the variety of structural technologies on offer. The Ursem approach to bathroom pod production is also very interesting and not typical of what we have seen or used in the UK. Seeing this certainly influences our thinking and might accelerate our interest in exploring these offsite techniques.”

Whether concrete and steel, concrete and timber frame, concrete and CLT or combinations of all these materials, Ursem has the capability to produce volumetric modules for projects up to 20 storeys on a bespoke project basis and this is how they have started to address the cost premium issue.

Other innovations demonstrated by Ursem included specialist lifting and installation equipment, lifting cages for combining modular installation with cladding installation and a novel method of achieving scaffold-free construction – all of which made sure that the Barratt Developments plc delegation left inspired and with plenty to discuss.

“Ursem’s ability to engineer and manufacture volumetric modules efficiently using a range of structural material technologies is the company’s USP,” says Darren Richards of Cogent

The group then moved to more familiar territory with a site visit in Hellegom, hosted by Xella, using large format Ytong aerated concrete vertical elements – similar to the I-House




8 system technology successfully deployed in the UK. Uniquely, the site was a regeneration project that required the retention of listed facades on the front elevation of the dwellings. In typical Dutch style, the dwellings were of a terraced format with a compact footprint, enabling the use of long spanning hollow core concrete floor planks. Another Xella product – calcium silicate block technology was employed for the internal walls. The Xella large format vertical elements installation process in combination with the hollow core concrete floor planks presented a very quick build process, with wall elements being adhesively bonded in place and mechanically tied at the head to create an airtight structure. First fix building services, including underfloor heating, were integrated in to the hollow core floor planks, awaiting a finishing screed. The heavy mass construction method, combined with renewable technologies and mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR), were required to achieve the Dutch building regulations which are heavily focused on zero energy or energy positive performance by 2020 to meet European Commission directives. The Ytong modular building system clearly offers three distinct advantages at the construction coalface. It is quick and easy to process, requires limited storage facilities onsite due to compact packaging and has minimal waste from the construction process. It can also offer maximum efficiency due to ‘just in time’ delivery of the building elements and bespoke pre-designed panels. The result – the average ‘shell’ for a two-bedroom terraced dwelling is erected within a day.



Maintaining the concrete technology theme, the next visit was to De Rouwbouw Groep (dRBG) – part of CRH Group – in Lelystad, a highly automated manufacturing facility that produced large-format precast panels. By offering constructive solutions, dRBG support efficient and sustainable building by means of ‘industrialising the building process’ with a focus on cost reduction and increased quality – a combination that is not always easily achievable. The product solution offered by dRBG for residential applications is a combination of Heembeton walls and Dycore floors with over 3 million m2 of wall area (in both single skin and twin skin formats) and 2 million m2 of floors being manufactured in seven locations in Holland. This is precast activity on a truly industrial scale. dRBG fully integrate electrical conduits and back-boxes, wall heating coils and windows within the Heembeton panels system before leaving the manufacturing facility, with insulation being installed onsite using factory installed ‘stick pins’ and brick-ties. The moulded face of the panels (using polished steel moulds) ensure that the internal face of the wall can directly accept a paint coat without the need for drylining, plastering or filling/ sanding activity. On the exterior of the panel the windows are pre-installed and provided with factory-fitted cavity tray technology. Delivery of wall panels is made via bespoke stillages (toast racks) that are transported to site in truly unique trailer bodies that enable tall wall panels and gable spandrel panels to site without the concern for low-loaders or restrictions on


10 transport routes due to bridge heights. Upon arrival on site the stillages are offloaded from the bespoke trailers and left adjacent to the point of use for crane erection. Empty stillages are returned from site for re filling. The follow on site visit to Appellaan demonstrated the continued ‘industrialisation’ theme with precast foundations being employed, with precast floor and wall elements, all of which was topped off with prefabricated long span highly insulated roof panels to create the typically Dutch room-inroof configuration. The tidiness of the construction site and the very small numbers of operatives required onsite was obvious and fully demonstrated the ‘systemisation’ approach. On route to Appellaan the delegation visited the Blue Casco exhibition house, which demonstrates a typical finished dwelling using the combination of the Heembeton wall system and Dycore floor system, with integrated bathroom pods and completed building services on a pair of semi-detached dwellings – one fully complete and furnished and the other




exposed bare to demonstrate the build method including external insulation and traditional brick façade finishes. The Blue Casco exhibition house is also an energy efficiency exemplar, designed to be energy neutral through a combination of airtightness, thermal insulation and building services technology. Thinking Outside the Comfort Zone “There are many similarities in Holland to the methods of build and building design techniques in the UK,” says Oliver Novakovic, Technical and Innovation Director at Barratt Developments plc. “The principles of energy efficiency are well understood in both countries (the UK and Holland) but it is quite startling to see the different process approaches adopted in each country. Both countries are currently dominated by masonry construction techniques but in Holland they have taken the ‘industrialisation’ process beyond the manufacturing facility to the construction site, with different plant and handling equipment and even unique wall mounted scaffolding solutions that do not come down to ground level. It really does make you stop and think.” The final word from the research trip must go to Steven Boyes, Chief Operating Officer at Barratt Developments plc, who says: “Such research trips are beneficial in that they help us to think differently. This trip has validated some of our technology choices and helped to reinforce our overall approach to MMC and offsite construction techniques. It has also been inspirational, giving us new ideas which we can take away to make our approach to offsite even better. We cannot thank our host companies enough for the efforts that they have

13 made in making us feel welcome and in accommodating our busy schedule. We look forward to returning the gesture by welcoming them to view our sites in the UK and to visit some of our offsite manufacturing partners.” Without doubt the Barratt Developments plc research trip was a resounding success for all concerned. It was great for Offsite Magazine to be part of this journey to give readers a small insight in to the offsite strategy of the UK’s largest housebuilder. As Barratt continue their journey we are in no doubt that there will be further tours so that better knowledge can improve future working performance.

Images: 01. STREIF Manufacturing Tour 02. STREIF Headquarters, Weinsheim 03. STREIF Manufacturing Tour 04-5. FertighausWelt Köln Show Village 06-07. Ursem Bouwgroep Production Line 08-09. Xella Large Format Vertical Element Installation 10. Blue Casco Exhibition House 11. De RuwBouw Groep Manufacturing Plant 12. De RuwBouw Groep Panels 13. Site Visit to DURA Vermeer

Also on the research trip were Rhoddy MacKinnon, Group Construction Director, Vince Coyle, Group Safety, Health and Environmental Director and Jack Brayshaw, Group Sustainability and Innovation Co-ordinator for Barratt Developments plc.

FIND OUT MORE For more details on the companies visited: • • • •

Streif – Ursem – Xella – dRBG –

For further dialogue with Barratt Developments plc please contact Oliver Novakovic –





Q: What are Fit Homes? What is the concept designed to achieve and where does it sit in the wider creation of flexible living and the development of ‘smart’ homes?

In a few short years, modular offsite timber manufacturer Carbon Dynamic have garnered a reputation for cutting edge design and delivery. Managing Director Matt Stevenson, took part in a quick Q&A about how new technology is changing the shape of construction.

MS: The ‘Fit Homes’ concept is a technology-enabled smart house that promotes wellbeing and preventative health solutions up to and including end of life care. Residents benefit from digital health and assisted living technologies in a way that has not been possible before. The concept supports residents to take charge of their own wellbeing. At the same time they can meet their health needs through a system of innovative technology and design. They will be able to both self-manage their support and have enhanced face-to-face social interaction. Fit Homes is a home for life, not just an end-of-life solution. The technology enables young people to maintain a sense of wellbeing and morphs as the person responds to the physical and mental changes that life brings. Q: The use of VR/AR technology is exciting and grasping many architect’s and manufacturers imaginations – how important is this to the future development of construction and the wider role of digital technology in the timber sector?

1 Q: Can you say a little about the creation of Carbon Dynamic and background to choosing an offsite modular approach using timber? Matt Stevenson (MS): Carbon Dynamic was established eight years ago in a highland farm steading. We are now based in a 4500m2 factory in Invergordon and we design and manufacture high-quality, beautiful timber modular buildings for the leisure and affordable housing markets having grown to a £4 million turnover and 45 permanent staff. We’re dedicated to delivering social, environmental and economic impact and do this by providing cost effective, low energy buildings using locally-sourced healthy and sustainable materials, and believe offsite manufacturing is the best way to


control the quality of both process and product. Q: What level of construction efficiencies are improved through the modular approach as compared with traditional build – either thermal, durability or manufacturing quality benefits? MS: Construction time is easier to predict and safer due to lack of weather influence. Time on site is minimised resulting in less disruption to neighbours. Material waste is reduced as this is controlled from a central location, quality of workmanship is easier to control and oversee – all resulting in better airtightness and thermal efficiency. It’s a safer working environment for staff than rural building sites.


MS: We have been developing our virtual reality (VR) tools to create photorealistic experiences. This allows for our designers and clients to visualise a project before a single piece of wood has been cut. This is an invaluable step in our design process as it can inform so much of the design, we have successfully run a co-design workshop with over a 100 participants on our Fit Homes project which had a great impact on the design process. In partnership with Sublime we have been looking at developing augmented reality (AR) as a tool for manufacture. The Augmented Worker system will be designed to drive greater certainty, safety, efficiency and sustainability through five key areas – co-design, digital job guidance, progress monitoring, safety guidance and asset management. This will allow jobs to be delivered on-time, and within budget, whilst also giving a greater level of collaboration and communication between teams.

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4 Q: Can you explain more about what the Augmented Worker system is and what you hope ‘visualisation technology’ can do to make the factory process more streamlined? MS: The Augmented Worker gives instant access to all available data about a project, overlaid digitally on your vision, AWE will allow everyone involved in a project to make better decisions and work more efficiently at all stages of a project. AWE as a whole will also create tools to enable us to achieve faster builds, higher quality outputs with fewer defects. It will also improve information exchange, project planning, health and safety procedures, construction methods, quality checks and maintenance requirements; resulting in sustainable gains in productivity. Q: How is Carbon Dynamic utilising these new VR/AR digital tools and what feedback have you got from those using it?


MS: Clients enjoy the opportunity to ‘experience’ their new home before it is built. It allows them to virtually move through the spaces and see how they interrelate. From a practical point they can experience layouts in kitchen and bathrooms and see window placement and door positions, allowing these aspects to be altered if necessary before any building work has started. Q: The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and the creation of Off Site Solutions Scotland has been encouraging in promoting timber technology and offsite manufacture. Does there feel like a noticeable change and groundswell of interest in the ways offsite manufacture is regarded in the last 18 months or so? MS: Within Carbon Dynamic there has been an enormous upswing in business. During the last six months we have created 18 new permanent jobs and 28 more contractor positions. Our turnover has multiplied 500% in the last 18 months and contract value has risen four fold. The number of


Carbon Dynamic’s ‘fabric-first’ approach to its construction system provides for long term low energy performance. Their uncompromising use of premium, natural materials in a breathable construction ensures that these materials perform at optimum levels and the life-span of a Carbon Dynamic building will substantially exceed that of a house built traditionally onsite. The design has the following unique features and are designed without corridors and with minimal doors to enable the free movement of people from one place in the house to another, regardless of their ability to walk. A clever wall system can be used as a wardrobe then enable conversion to a hospital room with integrated space for medical equipment. Moveable walls enable the bedroom to be expanded to incorporate a hospital bed and still have room for a partner’s bed if required. A further moveable wall in the house enables space to be made for a temporary bedroom should a partner, carer or family member need to sleep over on a short term basis. The construction is sustainable and environmentally friendly with particular emphasis on air quality and flow to ensure the highest possible wellbeing outcomes for tenants. Future variants of the build will include bigger properties and modules that can be attached to current houses as a retrofit option or placed as a standalone unit in a garden e.g. disabled bedrooms and bathrooms in a deliverable unit that can be reused in other properties when no longer required.

enquiries has increased monthly along with both the scale of the enquiry and geographic catchment, with regular enquiries from overseas, as interest in the value of offsite manufacturing rises. For more information visit:

Images: 01. VR/AR technology is revolutionising the ways home are viewed and designed 02-04. Offsite manufacture delivers huge benefits in project timescales


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It’s time to change perceptions of modern methods of construction, says Brian Ham, Executive Director of Development at Home Group, that is working with several partners to test, monitor and compare a range of offsite methods as part of a live research project in Gateshead.

1 In the last 20-30 years, technology, cars and phones have all advanced dramatically. But houses still look pretty much the same and are still built in pretty much the same way. But if we keep doing things in exactly the same way I’m doubtful that we’ll meet the government’s target of building 300,000 homes – which many people believe is already an underestimate in terms of what we need to tackle the housing crisis. The NHBC’s statistics on construction type for new homes registered show that masonry construction continues to account for the majority of new residential builds. A fact that has remained fairly constant for some


time. And whilst the popularity of offsite methods is growing – we’re still not using them at scale. It makes you wonder if there’s a confidence issue here. And if that is the case, perhaps the only way to grow confidence in using offsite at scale is to learn more about it. Gateshead Innovation Village, in partnership with Homes England, ENGIE and Gateshead Council will see a new community spring to life in a matter of months, consisting of a range of modular homes and a small number of traditional (41 homes in total). To make the most of the opportunity, we will also be using the project to test a range of electric


heating options for homes and smart technologies. We’ll be working with an independent research partner in order to do this, but it won’t be simply about monitoring the build. We’ll be working closely with residents to look at how the homes, energy options and smart technologies contribute to people’s lifestyles. One of the issues around the use of offsite at scale is public perception. We recently commissioned YouGov to carry out some research on this to see if our assumptions were correct about negative public perceptions. The fact that around 50% said they wouldn’t choose to live in a modular home shows that there is a challenge to overcome. However, what was really interesting is the fact that when the respondents were asked to identify modular homes from the images we provided, 75% selected images of shipping container homes. Only 11% identified a modern home by ilke Homes as modular. So these perceptions are not based on reality. We know in the sector that we have a solution to build more homes more efficiently, but a significant proportion of the public don’t want to live in these homes. Or at least, they don’t think they do – because they imagine these homes to be shipping containers. So, as part of our Gateshead Innovation Village project, not only are we exploring methods and technologies for the sector to make use of, we are also inviting the general public to go behind the scenes and learn what today’s modular homes are really like. There will be augmented reality and virtual reality opportunities, filmed content that goes behind the factory doors and much more. We can’t go on this journey without the support of the public – after all, at the end of the day, it’s the public we are building the homes for. For more information visit:

Images: 01. Almost 90% of respondents failed to recognise that this home was modular. Yet over 70% identified shipping container homes as modular homes.

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HOUSING Bricks and mortar are synonymous with our cultural and emotional understanding of the home and together these common materials create a powerful brand that is associated with traditional home life. We know what we are buying and we are comforted by this confidence. So what does offsite give us? It may be relevant to the supply of houses but does it resonate as an important component of a successful home? The answer is that offsite solutions offer a great deal to us, mostly on a technical level, but its cultural value as a homemaker is currently limited when compared to bricks as mortar. In economic terms we may value offsite’s high quality of construction and finish, low running costs with a well-insulated home, speed of manufacture and assembly, product designed and delivered through technology and with good design and layouts, a good quality occupation experience. But the majority of these value streams are about numbers and technical efficiencies and not about the emotional values that make a house a home.



Homes are different to housing. Housing is about the physical characteristics of the dwelling, the cost, the procurement, the scale of delivery. Homes are about people, their lives, emotions, ambitions, successes and failures. Brendan Geraghty of Geraghty Taylor discusses why this is so important.



Whilst traditional materials may be a convenient cultural backstop about our idea of a home there usefulness is declining in design and performance terms. They risk becoming a traditional wallpaper to smart flexible houses. Technology and lifestyle aspirations are shifting the way we live work and play. Our rapidly changing living culture demands that our homes are smart, flexible, adaptable, delightful and cheap to run. Our personal and diverse lifestyle expectations demand multi-functional homes to support them in the emerging experience economy. Notwithstanding the rapid cultural change around us, our expectations are that the safe and secure place to which we return will be our homes. But we do so with raised expectations around performance, quality and value. We are clearer about what we expect from this house product so we can turn it into a home. Geraghty Taylor capture this expectation in a brand and use it to define the tangible and intangible qualities of the product and the experience of using the product. Brand is so much more the touch points of a house, it must reflect

HOUSING the business model of the supplier (developer) as well as the lifestyle and cultural aspirations of the customer who buys it. Brand captures these qualities and incorporates them into the product. Brand is the customer experience. That’s why it’s important to define your brand before your building.

Offsite solutions and technology e.g. BIM have a major role to play in defining not only the brand but the physical product as well. Using these tools we can create and test housing product prototypes against our brand and customer requirements. Brand before Building is an open and holistic process that helps hone and define our response – leading to buildings that are more aligned and in tune with the objectives and needs of clients. A brand creates and guides user expectations of the product (or service) and it is much more than the physical or tangible product qualities such as function, material quality, environmental impact or cost. A brand will also capture and communicate the intangible qualities that may be associated with the product like its authenticity and uniqueness, how it allows for self-expression and helps form identity. It describes the quality of user experience and what we can expect from the physical product. A well thought through brand invites us all into an informed relationship with the product, from its design through delivery and during use. In other words, create the brand first and let the brand inform the design, definition, delivery and operation of the product – whether it be a new piece of architecture, a workplace interior or a house extension. DfMA/offsite is an enabler meaning that a development can offer more, in a better quality controlled, better integrated, better tested way that any traditional development could hope to do. As a developer, what are you offering your customer – what is your USP – how do you differ from a traditional housebuilder, have you explored how offsite can deliver this?

2 It can’t just be a ‘home’, but a home with additional features and value… define what these are and use DfMA to deliver these economically and reliably. Geraghty Taylor has long advocated DfMA/offsite for a range of reasons, including the increasing complexity of design and the accompanying increase in performance criteria, along with the decrease in experienced skilled labour from sites. This has exacerbated the poor record of housing delivery across the UK, with the year on year backlog increasing to a stage where home ownership is out of the reach of many and that new models need to be embraced. These new models are not just limited to one area, such as releasing new land onto the market. Other shifts must be made and from our experience Geraghty Taylor has found these include positive engagement in the emergent Build-ToRent market, expanding the innovation and the use of DfMA. Underlying all of these innovations is the digitalization which is coming to maturity within the delivery of building generally, but specifically in housing. We are early adopters of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and have found a wide range of data available to the team, not just pointing towards production/construction, but also in the direction of the client. This enables fast, accurate feasibilities and financial modelling is unlocking schemes where risks and opportunities can better be identified earlier allowing previously unviable sites to open up. This data equally continues forward to production where it is better visualised in a “push button to print” approach

than the traditional cobble it together onsite approach. Buildings using tried and tested components/modules are virtually prototyped before any physical building component is procured or produced. Once again we are back to quality, which can only be derived from a quality-controlled environment, which has taken advantage of virtual prototyping to ‘get it right’ and ensure good results on a consistent basis. The integration of design with an offsite solution needs to be far better anticipated and resolved. If you want a catchphrase it would be – ‘get it right, get it tight’, there is no opportunity for onsite fixes, whether that be in terms of prosaic things like the integration of services, the testing of finishes or the integration of user experience, which are brand critical details. In real terms it means a far greater degree of early program design detail, which should be expected and encouraged across the team, as there can be no second chances once production commences. Anticipating the future must be the norm with an offsite housing offer as it reinforces the message that offsite is a higher quality solution, with the ability to accept a wide range of current and future technologies. Design in the ability to change the design and in some cases extend the building from design stage. For more information visit:

Images: 01-02. The Livinhome flexible house type can accommodate different lifestyle patterns and is a scalable design.



CIH 2018


Housing 2018 – the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) flagship event – will be held at Manchester Central, 26-28 June and this year will feature a special focus on the offsite housing market.

Bringing the largest audience of housing professionals, government bodies and offsite solutions together for three days, a new development for 2018 will be an offsite demonstration village – open to all visitors at Housing 2018. This is the most ambitious project at any housing event to date and will showcase a variety of housing solutions. In partnership with BRE, the Cabinet Office, GLA, Homes England, Inside Housing, Manchester City Council, MHCLG and One Public Estate the Offsite Village. Stephen Kinsella lead, Accelerated Construction Programme, Homes England, says: “At Homes England, we see the expansion of offsite construction as absolutely crucial in getting the increase in numbers we 66

need to build 300,000 homes a year. Simply put, there isn’t the capacity in the industry to build 300,000 homes through traditional methods. So, we intend to be much more actively involved in offsite and we will use our land and finance to help scale it up. We’re really pleased that Homes England will be supporting the offsite village at this year’s annual housing conference.” The offsite demonstration village will see Central Housing Investment Consortium (CHIC) and ilke Homes building semi-detached homes using offsite technology over two days in time for Housing 2018. CHIC is a consortium of social housing provider that exist to secure efficiencies and savings for its members. Its BuildSmart model puts its members at the forefront in tackling the UK’s housing shortage with an all-in-one, collaborative approach to offsite manufacture and development of new homes. It enables a step-


change in housing delivery through innovative, factory built standard home types, co-ordinated materials supply and greater efficiency during the build period. For more information visit: ilke Homes is aiming to tackle the UK’s shortage of affordable housing by delivering consistently high-quality, modular homes at scale to the people that need them most. With a focus on inspiring design, ilke Homes builds beautiful, energy-efficient homes for real families, using the latest precision engineering techniques. Two modular properties by ilke Homes are being constructed as part of the off-site village at CIH’s Housing 2018 showcasing what ilke Homes are delivering for developers, local authorities and housing associations. We look forward to showing you around the homes. For more information visit:

CIH 2018 SPECIAL OFFSITE EVENTS Monday 25 June - 15:00 (2 hours) Walking tour of Manchester with the infamous tour guide Jonathan Schofield and Matthew Harrison, chief executive, Great Places Housing Group and a visit to Urban Splash’s hoUSe

Tuesday 26 June - 16:30 (1 hour) Offsite village drinks reception hosted by Sir Ed Lister, chair, Homes England and supported by Great Places Housing Group, One Manchester and Wythenshawe Community Housing Group

Wednesday 27 June - 16:30 (1 hour) Offsite village drinks reception hosted by Nick Walkley, chief executive, Homes England and the National Housing Group

Leading Conference Programme Visionary speeches, insightful interviews and candid conversation from housing experts and influential business leaders will ensure Europe’s largest housing conference remains the sector’s must-attend event. Be prepared to walk away feeling amazed and inspired. The unrivalled conference programme is the result of over 100 hours of intensive research, ensuring that your learning experience is fully optimised, and with 90% of delegates Chief executive/board directors, and representatives from the top 300 housing associations, you’re in excellent company. Industry knowledge and expertise on supply, demand, quality, safety, accreditation and procurement will be provided by the NHBC and law firm Trowers and Hamlins. You can meet experts from their teams at Housing 2018 for their advice and guidance to help you throughout your offsite project. NHBC Market Development Manager, Graham Sibley, says: “At NHBC we are seeing increasing interest in the use of offsite components, from lenders and investors to developers, housing associations and Build to Rent operators. What they all have in common is a desire to increase confidence in the quality and benefits of new homes built using off-site components. “It is an established expectation amongst homeowners, landlords, investors and mortgage companies that new homes will last a very long time. This means that materials and components need to be selected and assembled carefully so that at least a

With an incredible range of free seminars, expert speakers, demonstration village and networking receptions register at:

60 year lifespan can be achieved, with the construction of the finished home having the durability and resilience to withstand the vagaries of the UK climate. The key question that we are looking to answer for investors and lenders in particular is whether we can provide warranty and insurance on the finished home, over and above simple assurance that the components are robust and manufactured to a consistent quality. NHBC takes a collaborative approach, reviewing building designs and components from the earliest stages – and certainly before designs are locked down. In so doing, we are able to identify areas of potential risk and work together to mitigate that risk. As a result we can also be confident in providing warranty and insurance against structural defects the assurance required by lenders and investors, and the protection needed by home and asset owners.” For more details about our approach to MMC, and the systems and components already accepted by NHBC, please visit:

Katie Saunders, partner at Trowers & Hamlins LLP says: “The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) paper on modular housing identified three key elements to unlock the supply and demand conundrum affecting the delivery of additional housing using offsite construction methods. These are to aggregate demand through strategic relationships between housing providers and the supply chain, standardise specifications and house types and to procure housing using model forms of contract with appropriate risk apportionment suitable for offsite manufacturing methods. Trowers and Kings College, London are supporting CLC on research on the model form of contract and advising on strategic and project considerations. For housing providers wishing to engage directly with the modular market thought should be given to terms of engagement and the need to create long term strategic relationships to ensure that each project does not become a one-off costly experiment never to be repeated.” For more information visit:





The Chapel Wharf Project in Salford represents a major development in the delivery of multi-storey residential construction and has utilised PCE Limited’s hybrid offsite concrete ‘system build’ approach.

1 The Chapel Wharf Project is delivering 995 private rental sector (PRS) apartments across four blocks ranging in height from 13 to 23 storeys. The scheme is being delivered by Sir Robert McAlpine in just two and a half years with the precast superstructures being completed in less than two years. The development is situated on a former car park next to the Lowry Hotel, in a prime city centre location with easy access to transport links and Manchester’s bustling retail and commercial districts. Due to the city centre location which is sandwiched between an existing residential development, the Lowry hotel and the Manchester tax office, and the fact that the four blocks occupy the majority of the site footprint, the site logistics strategy is a major challenge which has been the key to developing a successful ‘fast track’ construction strategy.


The four large luffing jib tower cranes each services a block with three of the cranes sharing an offloading area within the site whilst one of the cranes utilises an offloading area created by a lane closure on the adjoining Chapel Street. Careful sequencing and planning allows up to 24 deliveries of precast components and bathroom pods to enter this busy site every day whilst still allowing delivery of other construction materials by the main contractor. This logistics strategy is managed and controlled by PCE’s site construction team and requires every vehicle movement and every crane lift to be pre-planned to the minute. Key to the delivery model for the scheme as a whole is the adoption of an ’offsite mindset’ from the developer Dandara and the contractor Sir Robert McAlpine. Most of the superstructure is being delivered by PCE using structural precast concrete components which are manufactured


offsite by PCE’s manufacturing partners in several factories across the UK and Ireland. These components are delivered to site on a just-in-time basis and are then assembled into position by PCE’s directly employed construction operatives. This design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) strategy means that the four blocks can be assembled onsite simultaneously by a team of just 45 construction operatives. The process involves structural wall and slab components which are manufactured to very tight tolerances and with high quality, consistent finishes, being lifted into position, temporarily restrained and then stitched together using a series of pre-engineered structural connections which satisfy both robustness and stability requirements of the structure. The ‘system build’ approach delivers much greater levels of predictability and certainty whilst significantly reducing the number of deliveries to site along with huge reductions in onsite man hours compared with traditional construction methods. It’s not just the superstructure that benefits from significant enhancements in efficiency. A series of ‘smart’ strategies have been adopted as part of the structural solution that generate massive benefits to the overall delivery programme along with the removal of numerous follow-on trades. Façade Construction – an integrated facade solution is a key component of the superstructure delivery strategy with the external envelope being delivered as a composite sandwich construction of decorative reconstructed stone, hung from an inner structural concrete wall, with an inner core of dense insulation. This façade construction results in a durable, high-quality and high-performing envelope being constructed concurrently with the

CONCRETE structural frame. Windows are being pre-installed within the sandwich panels at the precast factory resulting in a weathertight, scaffold-less envelope construction. Panels are configured to apartment layouts so range from 7m to 10m long by 2.85m tall. This means that up to 230m2 of façade per construction team can be constructed each day. Cantilever Concrete Balconies – each apartment has a ‘full length’ cantilever balcony constructed in concrete which results in the buildings being ‘wrapped’ in balconies. Balconies are manufactured with pre-finished fair face concrete soffits and walking surfaces with an additional pattern preformed in the upper surface to provide anti-slip characteristics. The front edge of the balcony is protected by a continuous glass balustrade which is pre-installed offsite and then lifted into position with the balcony. This balcony construction provides safe external access throughout the construction phase not just to PCE’s construction team but to all of the follow-on trades. To facilitate the safe installation of the balcony a bespoke thermal break system was developed which allowed the cantilever section of the balcony to be cast with an inner structural support beam which meant that balconies could be constructed from within the building envelope, negating the need for men to hang over the edge of the building to construct the balconies. Finished ‘Screed-less’ Pre-stressed Solid Slabs – the structural system involves the use of main party walls as shear walls which carry the floor slabs. This means that slabs forming a two bed apartment span over 10m, therefore a pre-stressed slab solution is vital in producing an efficient span to depth ratio. Hollowcore planks would be the default solution in conventional precast buildings but this results in the slabs requiring a levelling screed which is deep enough to deal with relatively large pre-cambers. On this scheme, PCE has developed a pre-stressed solid slab solution which is designed and manufactured to be flat, so a screed is no longer required. This has removed over 50,000m2 of screeding works at Chapel Wharf which would have been both disruptive and time consuming. This, along with the fact that all of the bathrooms are pre-



4 installed, and an effective temporary weathering strategy has been adopted, has allowed the apartment ‘fit-out’ activities to progress just two levels behind the superstructure leading edge. Stair Balustrades – precast stair flights have been delivered to site with the permanent balustrades pre-fitted to the string faces. This means that as soon as the stairs are assembled, the permanent edge protection is in place thus making the stairs safe to use. This also removes the problematic operation of installing balustrades onsite which results in stair cores having to be closed and the coordination headache of removing temporary protection to fit the permanent system. In total, 57,000m2 of residential structure and 25,000m2 of façade is

being delivered by PCE at Chapel Wharf. An average of 4.5 apartments are constructed each week by each of the four construction teams onsite with apartments being fitted-out and completed approximately 20 weeks after the structure has been completed. A smarter strategy to superstructure delivery is the key to this speed but also delivers significant improvements in terms of quality and health and safety. For more information visit:

Images: 01-04. Most of the superstructure is being delivered by PCE using structural precast concrete components using a DfMA approach.







1 Offsite construction reduces the amount of work required ‘at height’ and improves overall project health and safety. Smartroof recently won the Best Health and Safety Product award at the 2018 Housebuilder Product Awards. Traditional room-in-roof construction is vulnerable to major risks caused by numerous factors including the erection of scaffolding and manual handling whilst working in confined spaces and with falling brickwork. In addition to these, there are risks involved in working at height on attic trusses or top-hats and purlins. This also means that the roof can take weeks to erect, insulate and make watertight. The Smartroof system has been designed and developed as an offsite product to overcome the challenges faced during roof construction. This way of rethinking roof construction delivers proven benefits in terms of thermal performance, consistent quality, speed of construction and most importantly health and safety benefits onsite. “Site safety is a major priority for Smartroof,” says Sean Og Coyle, Smartroof’s Managing Director. “So


we are thrilled to have won the award for Best Health and Safety product. We have worked hard to develop a product that overcomes the health and safety risks associated with traditional roof construction and addresses the issues our customers face.” Offsite is a relatively new concept for many housebuilders so Smartroof’s focus is on establishing systems which take the exacting quality standards set in the factory and transferring them to the site during handling and installation. By engaging with the NHBC’s technical team, the company has identified the most important points in the construction process which should be validated for effective quality management, providing traceability and compliance with best installation practice. The first initiative is a detailed Customer Support Pack containing every detail required to manage and record an effective installation. This ensures that installation teams are fully briefed on the correct processes, guiding them to an energy efficient conclusion. The new Smartroof Customer Support Pack has been designed with housebuilders in mind. With each stage of the Smartroof process


being covered meticulously, from the call-off process right through to post-installation checks and after sales support, the Customer Pack gives support to the housebuilder throughout the entire process, ensuring the smooth running of delivery and installation of Smartroof products. In addition, a new mobile app is available as a companion to the Support Pack which allows the compliance reports to be completed on screen for convenience during installation rather than a paper form. The app will automatically update a database of site specific records so compliance reports are safe and secure. Designed for installation teams, the Smartroof app provides instant access to comprehensive product information – from utility tools to installation videos. With an intuitive interface, the Smartroof app offers technical data and product features across the entire Smartroof product range. The app also features YouTube-hosted ‘How To’ videos, illustrating the most practical application and best use of Smartroof products and materials. Most importantly, the app allows real-time correspondence with the internal sales support team, meaning reporting facilities are tightened and issues can be resolved instantaneously. The app is currently being rolled out across Smartroof installation teams including those from housebuilder customers who have been trained by technical experts to become Smartroof Registered Installers. For more information visit:

Images: 01-02. Smartroof’s new mobile app is designed to give installation team’s instant access to comprehensive product information

Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before Help us create the house of the future > WANTED < Timber Design Engineers & Structural Timber Engineers The Keystone Group has a number of exciting opportunities for Timber Design Engineers & Structural Timber Engineers to help create and manufacture the house of the future - Keyhouse. To find out more about these exciting career opportunities, visit /careers or forward your CV to




CAN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT BE PRE-MANUFACTURED FROM MASS TIMBER? Globally, the production of mass timber systems is increasing exponentially, driven largely by the need for more sustainable ways of delivering the built environment. Dr Robert Hairstans, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University and Head of the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures explains further. construction given their capability to form whole building envelopes, often in combination with mass timber beam products (glue-laminated timber and laminated veneer lumber) and other construction materials in hybrid forms.

1 Coinciding with this is also a worldwide shift to more construction activities being carried out offsite in factory environments, given the need for improved levels of construction productivity combined with technological advances that are being made, both mechanically and digitally. Mass timber slab and beam components can be brought together and combined with other materials offsite to form modular or volumetric units capable of being enhanced to a high level of factory finish which equate to turnkey solutions. The mass timber family of products consists of various form of solid laminate timber systems. However, it is the panelised or slab forms of mass timber, primarily CLT, that have particularly ‘moved the needle’ for use and application of timber in 72

The exponential growth in use of CLT is driven not only by the environmental credentials of timber as a product, but also by the structural attributes of the panels ascertained from this process that allow timber to be used in building applications beyond normal limitations. Once fabricated, the mass timber product is normally cut to the required shape and size for the end application via CNC (computer numeric control) saws which have the capability of cutting in almost any direction with the precision necessary to form openings, services voids or acoustic performance-enhancing profiles. To streamline these processes, the CNC operations will be linked to computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacture (CAM) software. It is worth noting that this approach can also be utilised on NLT fabricated with aluminium nails. These offsite manufactured mass timber products can then either be shipped direct to site or formed into offsite volumetric modules that can be taken to a high level of finish with windows, doors, external cladding and internal linings and services included. Carbon Dynamic a company based in the Scottish Highlands, are currently deploying this approach in the delivery of student accommodation for the Dyson Institute for Technology.


The utilisation of mass timber products requires a change in design thinking particularly when the products are to be further formed to create full volumetric units with an enhanced level of finish. Designers need to take cognisance of the capabilities of the mass timber manufacturing process (dimensional compatibility, CNC cutting and routing capability) and follow-on production activities (factory lifting, allowable space, available tools and equipment) to create the volumetric system. In addition, the logistical arrangements, from both a transport and site access perspective, need to be taken in to account. Information and communication technology (ICT) system integration; understanding the full parameters of design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) as well as disassembly (DfMA+D) and ensuring an early design freeze are therefore of high importance in adding more value in the factory and ensuring successful project delivery. DfMA+D takes cognisance of end of life or change of use, such that the building components are demountable in the future for reconfiguration or alternative applications. Going forward, digitisation and the emergence of integrated BIM platforms that facilitate the interoperability of software utilised during each stage of the mass timber production process can enhance the level of information that resides within the built asset with a digital thread. In theory, this can provide the capability of tracing the source material back



3 to the forest and thereby inform the product’s overall environmental credentials. The use of virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) will facilitate knowledge exchange for upskilling and early integration across the project team, as well as client and customer understanding for improved decision-making. In-situ, the performance of the unit and its interactions with its users can be monitored, creating a feedback loop for future product optimisation or maintenance. Advantages and Barriers Offsite massive timber systems can offer considerable advantages over more traditional forms of construction, particularly when utilising the local timber resource. Responsibly sourced timber has inherent environmental credentials, given that it sequestrates carbon. Prolonging this sequestration in energy-efficient buildings close to sources that conserve energy can help reduce the environment impact of construction. This is fundamentally important, given that buildings account for approximately half of all

4 our extracted materials and energy consumption and around one third of our water consumption. In addition to this, a localised supply chain can reduce transport emissions as well as provide jobs, stimulating wealth creation – hence why Edinburgh Napier University has pioneered work to integrate UK timber fibre into mass timber products. The social, economic and environmental value of utilising mass timber forms of construction therefore need to be considered during the specification process. Specifying products for a project on material cost alone fails to consider the wider benefits of mass timber and, as a result, other materials and systems can be inaccurately deemed to be more competitive. Mass timber construction has, for example, been demonstrated to reduce construction time on projects by up to 20% when compared to more traditional methods, a factor that can be of particular relevance when the time taken to building sign-off impacts upon the return on investment.

MORE ON SOLID TIMBER Dr Robert Hairstans undertakes research, innovation and knowledge exchange activities in order to deliver construction technologies for tomorrow’s communities within a circular economy. His recent publication Mass Timber – an introduction to Solid Laminate Timber Systems (available from Arcamedia, https://www.arcamedia. is considered to be a strategic milestone towards full commercial production of mass timber in the UK. Robert will also be presenting at Solid Wood Solution held at the Oculus, University of Warwick 5 July – for more information visit:

There are, however, barriers to uptake, with a lack understanding of the benefits to such methods of construction combined with sectoral resistance to change often impinging upon progress. Manufacturing mass timber at scale and enhancing it further in an offsite environment does normally require high levels of capital investment, thus necessitating a pipeline of work to ensure an economic return. Given that this is the case, collaborative partnerships between industry, government agency, trade organisation and academia are important when bringing mass timber products to market. These types of collaboration have the ability to stimulate the market by means of showcasing and disseminating information, ensuring system compatibility within the regional regulatory context and, importantly, reducing the associated investment risk through the use of public funds to underpin the process.

Image: 01. Dalston Lane – an award-winning project using CLT 02-03. Trial fabrication, structural testing and 3D visualisation at Carbon Dynamic 04. Edinburgh Napier University has pioneered work to integrate UK timber fibre into mass timber products. CLT vacuum press at the Innovation Factory, Scotland. Courtesy CSIC






2 1 A new affordable housing development is being created in Ayr by CCG on behalf of Ayrshire Housing – helping address the substantial unmet need for highquality affordable housing in the town.

panelised timber frame system created in their bespoke offsite manufacturing facility, CCG OSM, in Cambuslang. Wall panels are then transported to site complete with insulation, internal wall linings, windows and doors preinstalled.

The project comprises 39 one and two-bedroom flats on a long-derelict site on Peebles Street. Once complete, the new residents will benefit from car parking facilities and a central landscaped courtyard, as well as local access to train and bus stops and cycle path facilities. To commemorate the site start, Ayrshire Housing and CCG were met by representatives of South Ayrshire Council to break ground on what is an important project for the town.

Calum Murray, Director of CCG, added: “CCG is delighted to be onsite with Ayrshire Housing to deliver much-needed affordable housing to the town of Ayr. By using offsite methods of construction, CCG is able to ensure the highest quality standard as semi-automated conditions offer enhanced levels of consistency and accuracy as well as improved levels of environmental performance – a key advantage for future residents in reducing energy bills. When on site, the use of our system offers a much faster speed of build when compared to traditional methods which will reduce the impact of works on the town centre location.”

“We’ve been looking to develop this key site for over ten years,” says Rhonda Leith, Ayrshire Housing’s Chair. “I’m pleased that our partnership with CCG has at last made this possible. We’re delighted with the positive approach of CCG and their architects LMA to meeting the association’s requirements. We should also thank South Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government for providing the substantial grant which will allow us to let the houses at affordable rents.” CCG will use offsite construction methods for the build using its


CCG will also work with Ayr Housing to deliver job and training opportunities for the local community as well as working with local schools and colleges to provide curriculum support. nd personnel in comparison to RC frame. For more information visit:


CCG (SCOTLAND) APPOINTED TO THE SCOTTISH PROCUREMENT ALLIANCE’S (SPA) NEW HOUSE BUILDING FRAMEWORK. The H1 Framework is dedicated to supporting Scottish Government ambitions to deliver 50,000 homes by 2021 and offers public sector clients a faster route to procuring best value and quality from contractors appointed to the framework. The construction workstream allows for the development of all types of new build residential accommodation including housing, bungalows, multi-occupancy flats, apartments, student housing, sheltered accommodation, care homes and associated works. CCG will be able to support public sector clients across Scotland for projects of 16 units and above. This is a continuation of CCG’s ongoing involvement with the SPA having successfully delivered over 50 homes through the Nh1 (Off-Site Construction of New Homes) Framework for Perth and Kinross Council and South Lanarkshire Council as well as range of contracts delivered by CCG’s Asset Management division, as part of the KB3 (Kitchen and Bathroom) Framework.

Images: 01. The Ayr project will revitalise living on a long-derelict site on Peebles Street into 39 one and two-bedroom flats 02. The SPA H1 Framework is set to deliver 50,000 homes by 2021




The Oculus provides the University of Warwick with a new BREEAM Excellent flagship building with an impressive glulam timber roof and curved three storey glass façade, making it instantly recognisable, reducing embodied carbon and improving sustainability. It is also the venue for the upcoming Solid Wood Solutions event. the University’s Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning Centre to capitalise on the green campus environment and encourage more inside/ outside learning activities.

1 Located on a prominent site close to the social heart of the campus, the building contains two tiered lecture theatres, with the 500-seater being the largest in the university. A 250-seat theatre is sited beneath, which features the spectacular open underside of the timber roof. Teaching spaces are organised into two wings, which support the glulam timber roof which dramatically towers above a curved three storey glass facade. The abundant use of glulam beams not only vastly improves sustainability by reducing embodied carbon but also creates a building with a dramatic roof that is instantly recognisable. The 4,750sqm building contains 12 seminar rooms, flexible social and learning spaces, plus the latest


teaching technology such as multiple screens, visualisers, touch panel controls, wireless audio, lecture capture and webcast facilities. Generous circulation spaces flow around the lecture theatres and create enclaves of space for social learning whilst the inclusion of a café in the atrium further supports use of the building by students beyond formal teaching sessions. In addition to the advanced technologies provided within all seminar rooms, the design includes an exceptional feature for the three largest of the four ground floor seminar spaces – the external walls can be opened up onto landscaped external terraces. This striking feature was developed in collaboration with


The glulam beams were specified for the central feature roof in part, as a response to the client brief, which called for a warmer palette of natural materials to mark a new direction in the development of the campus, but also as an expressive and sustainable structural material, giving the building its defining character. The use of a low carbon, sustainable and beautiful material for the main feature of the building echoes the wider ambition for the building as a whole and its role as the first step in a new wave of campus regeneration. The roof also makes a bold statement about the energy and strength of the University’s commitment the student’s experience and unifies three of the key spaces within the building. The integrity of the timber structure also serves as an educational experience – during construction second, third and fourth year students from the department of engineering toured the site, the project team hosted a series of student workshops. The choice of timber also helped fulfill the acoustic requirements, with the cross laminated timber (CLT) deck providing good sound insulation from break-in noise, whilst the exposed glulam structure beneath assisted with breaking down internal reflections to manage the reverberation times within the lecture theatre. Each of the 1,200mm wide CLT ‘planks’, spanning up to 6.6m between the main arches to make up the deck, had longitudinal edges rebated for the insertion of marine ply ‘tongues’ with air seal tapes across


2 each joint. The CLT deck provided an excellent working platform for the subsequent installation of a robust VC/ airtight layer and the support rails and stools for the aluminum roof covering – increasing the quality of the workmanship and aiding the ease of inspection for these critical items. Opening on time for the start of the 2017/18 academic year, the new building has been extremely well received by staff and students alike. The Vice President of the University, Professor Lawrence Young said: “This was the first time the University of Warwick has built a standalone teaching and learning space, and we wanted an architecturally outstanding building that symbolises our commitment to the student experience. Berman Guedes Stretton Architects worked closely with us to convert our strategic objectives into a physical space that not only delivers our educational objectives but also forms an integral part of the university


life and landscape. The building has exceeded our expectations and has already become the main feature of our central campus.” The design of the timber roof structure delivered a rapid, reliable and safe result and offers a stunning, maintenance free feature. The primary arches were delivered to site in two sections, direct from Binderholz in Austria. All of the timber is visual grade which has been left in its natural state, requiring no return maintenance for the University. The timber is expected to simply improve over time as the natural colour intensifies with age. Great care was taken to ensure that the soffit of the roof was kept completely clear of all services. The Oculus achieved BREEAM Excellent and EPC A ratings, largely due to the use of low carbon glulam timber for the main roof, natural light, and ventilation reinforced by a roof mounted PV installation, connection to

SOLID WOOD SOLUTIONS You can find out more about this superb building from Neil Eaton, Director of Berman Guedes Stretton Architects, whom will present a Case Study on the Oculus at the Solid Wood Solutions conference and exhibition. Date: 05 July 2018 Time: 8.45am – 4.00pm Venue: The Oculus, University of Warwick, 6 University Road, Coventry, CV4 7AL Tickets: £125 +VAT which includes refreshments and lunch Book: For more information visit:

4 the campus wide CHP district heating and power system together with the use of heat recovery ventilation systems for the conditioned spaces which also used air source heat pumps with adiabatic cooling. This project was delivered via the Scape Framework by the main contractor, Willmott Dixon Construction, who provided the University with a ‘turnkey’ service. From the very outset, the design and contractor teams worked closely throughout the initial concept stages right through to completion the final result was an iconic building which will be valued by generations to come. For more information visit: Images: 01-04. The Oculus is a stunning building with solid timber a pivotal part of the structure. Courtesy Berman Guedes Stretton




The future of Offsite


Bringing offsite construction to life The Offsite hub in partnership with Explore Offsite will feature a ground-breaking exhibition of offsite construction solutions and the largest gathering of the growing industry’s professionals, summing up the importance of offsite technology for the future.


• Explore Offsite seminars, focused on the latest innovation in offsite technology • Larger exhibition – from product launches to full-scale builds • New for 2019 Guided technical tours • The best in precision building design and delivery at the Offsite Awards • New for 2019 Offsite forum brought to you by Cogent



Be part of the future Contact Trevor Crawford on +44 (0)20 3011 2548



26,590 overall visitors

+5% increase in visitor attendance

900+ Offsite seminar attendees

3,500 visitors attended specifically for offsite technologies



of visitors authorise or specify products

of visitors managerial or above

This is definitely the busiest event we’ve exhibited at and we love the different hubs. We’re looking forward to developing the brand even further and coming back to showcase its journey in 2019! Kathryn Legg, Marketing Services Manager at Marley

Join the leading offsite construction suppliers in 2019




EOS FACADES CONFIDENCE HIGH As one of the leading steel framing systems innovators, with over 11 years expertise across all construction sectors – EOS Facades’ expansion programme continues with a major extension to the company’s advanced offsite manufacturing facility and the development of a new fabrication plant. of three major construction materials companies. Through combining their expertise in drywall, passive fire protection and steel framing systems – the group has created a range of unique solutions from the building envelope to internal linings, partitions and penetrations. The factory extension has also been created to manage the increase volume of work with the development of the Etex Building Performance Thruwall® system, integrating the product ranges from the group including Siniat, Promat and EOS Facades.

1 In addition to the five Howick steel framing machines currently in operation, to further expand the manufacturer’s product portfolio and capacity, EOS have invested in a new multiwidth (boxer) machine and installed overhead cranes for lifting and moving frames and steel coils around the extended facility. This work has been undertaken in preparation for the increased workload with the development of a complete walling solution and load-bearing panelised system to support offsite initiatives. Steve Thompson, Managing Director of EOS Facades said of the expansion programme: “We have invested in our own fabrication plant to be self-sufficient in manufacturing our ancillary parts such as angles, brackets, windows and cills. This will support our market leading ‘lump-


sum’, all-inclusive pricing initiative and complement our ‘total supply’ offering – enabling us to support the volumetric modular building sector together with high bay and continuous walling industries.” EOS Facade’s existing range offers 65mm, 100mm, 150mm, 200mm and 250mm deep sections in gauge thicknesses ranging from 1.2mm to 2mm and section lengths are fully customisable. With the latest addition of the multiwidth machine, the company can now also produce U-Track sections ranging from 65mm – 254mm in thicknesses ranging from 1mm to 3mm with capability to run all of our slotted head track profiles. EOS Facades is now part of Etex Building Performance which brings together the products and solutions


Steve Thompson continued: “The combination of expertise from the Etex Building Performance group in drylining, external sheathing and steel framing systems, as well as passive fire protection – means that we are uniquely positioned to bring together these elements to create a range of tested and warrantied Thruwall® systems. Meeting building performance requirements for fire, thermal, weathering, acoustics and airtightness – the newly launched Thruwall® Systems provide an ‘all in one’ certified and warrantied solution providing crucial time and costs benefits.” The fully tested non load-bearing infill Thruwall® solutions for the external building envelope - combine BBA Certified non-combustible A1 external sheathing, engineered steel framing system and internal wall linings. With a turnover of over £200 million, Etex Building Performance Group backs the Thruwall® Systems with a 30-year warranty.

STEEL EOS Facades run accredited CPD Factory Tours for architects, contractors, engineers and clients at the company’s advanced manufacturing facility in County Durham. Hosted by the EOS Technical Team together with the Etex Building Performance specification team, the tours are completely free to attend. The tours include a presentation by the estimating team on how the EOS ‘lump sum’ quote is generated, a demonstration of EOS Facades’ design software, followed by a tour of the factory and demonstrations of the Howick and the new multiwidth (boxer) machines. The tour features quality control procedures, labelling, floor coding and traceability processes and includes examples of the innovative Thruwall® system types. Following the tour, the EOS technical team present a CPD session covering a variety of topics relating to this technology plus examples of best practice applications and project examples. This will be the first opportunity to see EOS Facades’ expanded operation.

2 To register your interest for the next CPD accredited factory tours, taking place on 20 September 2018 email Hannah Jones at: For more information visit:

3 Images: 01. The factory expansion will support the market leading ‘lump-sum’, all-inclusive pricing initiative 02. Colart Artisan Place, Harrow 03. The Ram Quarter at Wandsworth is an exciting new residential and retail development

CONFERENCE & EXHIBITION Sandy Park, Exeter 11 July 2018 This combined conference and exhibition will bring together a range of offsite technology supply chain specialists and industry leaders to discuss the uptake of offsite construction in the South West region. The event creates a platform for construction clients and their professional advisers to explore the latest offsite construction solutions, providing a dynamic and interactive learning experience for all visitors.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE Catherine Bullough, CITB Alan Tate, Michelmores David Speight, EDF Energy Andy Smith, Caledonian Modular Stephen Pester, Modulek Peter Blunt, Innovaré Systems Paul Britton, Homes England

To book your place go to

Dr Sonja Oliveira, UWE

…& many more!




1 Mapleton Crescent is a volumetric modular project constructed with 24 storeys of modules using the Vision Modular System (VMS) wall support system with distributed structure. This is Europe’s third tallest modular building with varying floor plans up through the building. The majority of this development is affordable being sold at a minimum of 20% below the expected market value. It is the fourth building that VMS have manufactured and constructed for Pocket Living under this affordable scheme and shows both the cost effectiveness and quality of work through a repeat client. This project has a modular solution for the residential and circulation spaces constructed to 24 storeys around a triangular concrete core. The use of modules allowed concurrent construction of both the slip formed core and the factory built and fittedout modules. The modules were then erected in seven weeks to a height of 84m achieving unparalleled speed for residential construction at this height. The system is completely developed around a structural steel solution relying on the high strength to weight ratio to keep the walls to normal thicknesses. Standardisation of steel details allowing intense investigation and refinement to ensure the most cost-effective product both in terms of materials and work effort expended.


The predictable elastic properties of structural steel have allowed the development of intense and accurate methods of structural analysis. The resulting building has all residential area and the majority of the circulation spaces completed to factory quality far exceeding what is normally achieved with the same effort and for the same cost onsite. With most of the building completed using an offsite modular solution the resulting sustainability benefits are clear and well understood. The main areas are waste reduction, labour, speed, disruption, energy consumption and noise. The building is very slender and dynamic issues were solved with the modular solution, the building has roof gardens which add high loads to the upper level modules, changing layouts throughout, balconies attached to both modules and the concrete core, bespoke terracotta cladding. The use of steel framed modules combines the high strength to weight ratio of the structural material in an efficient manner to maximise the benefits of offsite manufacture. At a very early stage of a project the range of steel sizes required are easily identified and stock levels managed to ensure smooth running throughout the project. The use of steelwork allows various elements of the modules to be manufactured early and efficiently stored due to the flatpack nature of


2 these assemblies. This ensures lean and efficient manufacture with very low risk of delays. The manufacture of the modules runs in parallel with the onsite construction and a calculated amount of storage of the finished modules ensures continuity of construction and erection of modules on the critical path as the fastest route to completion. The majority of a residential building such as Mapleton Crescent is finished in the factory so onsite work is minimised and speed of completion is maximised. The speed of project completion minimises overall time onsite, ensures an early return on investments and when deadlines are tight or need guarantees, then offsite is the most reliable method of construction. The use of modular construction for all the residential areas and most of the circulation spaces has resulted in the majority of the building structure and finishes arriving to site in completed form within the modules at a rate of about 10 deliveries per day. This is a significant reduction in the number of site deliveries, disruption to the local area and energy requirements for transportation. For more information visit: Images: 01-02. The building is very slender and dynamic issues were solved with the modular solution. Courtesy Vision Modular Systems






Lucideon can help you at all stages of the design and construction process for offsite and modular buildings, from materials selection and manufacturing to installation and verification. Our wide-ranging testing, process and verification capabilities cover every aspect of your products, so you can create a comprehensive, reliable solution.






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James Walsh, Lead Designer at Anyo Architects, presents a vision of the future for housing design and delivery that could – and should – be just around the corner.

We can manufacture two million cars a year and are the global leader in process design and manufacturing system design. They come in a huge array of design and customisation, from seat material, dash boards, music systems, front rear wheel drive, petrol, electric or diesel. Even the very inventive Tesla drive-by-wire accelerator pedals uses the same part as the 2010-2012 Ford Fusion. Let’s start with the core of the problem, we currently ‘design’ 220,000 different homes for specific market segments which are badly built and designed. Quality homes are seen as second hand Victorian terrace designed and built 150 years ago. What if I told you, you could have a 10% bigger room, 35% cheaper and 30% quicker than currently available and you can have it any colour and style you want. How? Component Based Design (CBD).

1 We are currently building roughly 220,000 properties a year while 80,000 families still require homes. The government strategy to close this gap is with self-build and volumetric modular homes. There is a rather obvious problem with this approach given there is not enough spare capacity globally to create 80,000 volumetric homes in the UK and the self-build capacity is in the hundreds not thousands. To delve into these numbers even further, industrial innovators like L&G invested £55 million in a volumetric factory and their system design is aiming to producing 3,000 homes a


year while Urban Splash’s ambition is 1,000 homes a year, neither are achieving even these targets. A medium size 120,000sqft factory could produce 10 homes a week, making 520 homes a year and there are circa 10 of these operational in the UK. This approach is fundamentally flawed as capacity drivers will never meet demand without a fundamental change in approach. The industry is mired by regulatory misunderstanding, lack of mortgage availability, uninsurable homes and a general negative perception based on our historic last volumetric foray with prefab schools and concrete tower blocks.


Let’s first fix the supply-based economics of the house developer and the purchasers to secure the pipeline of supply and demand and stop blaming the planning system or large house builder. If the government implements a 50% council tax reduction for CBD homes that would create the demand for this property type. Demand creates investment, and this will create an environment for the increase in manufacturing capacity. As everyone likes the Victorian properties typology, we can start there. Let’s create a bedroom of 3.6m x 3.6mx 2.5m high. We can agree the bed is always on the left along the long dimension, the door is opposite, we can add a two-door location, one to enter the room and one to add an en-suite. Beds unsurprisingly come in standard sizes, this allows people to make standard mattresses that always fit on

DESIGN RATIONALISATION façade, fully-wired with testing, 100% complete in the factory. He pops in and paints them pastel blue and slides in his futon!


3 these bed frames and we then mass produce sheets that also fit on this standard size... no supply issue here, we have enough beds for the people whom want a bed. Given that we have a metric, we can add say a metre around this bed for circulation and hey presto, we have a basic building block of a bedroom. A standard bed size and a standard circulation zone. Now, I have fixed my bed position, I can locate my wall sockets as I know the size of my bed and circulation zone, and you can still have a futon or a four-poster bed with gargoyles! So, let’s do a large central window, floor to ceiling 2m wide and 2m high, lots of light. Perhaps we will just standardise the layouts for the bedroom and

the bathroom, leaving the living and dining rooms to the creatives. So now our designers start with four components and layout their house, filling in the remainder of the design with as much creativity and colour as they can muster. The only rule, is they must not alter the component we have fixed, the height, width and length of the bedroom bathroom, location of the bed, doors and windows. Our builder phones the component factory and sees if they have any bedrooms in stock and asks them to be delivered next week when they have completed the ground floor. He asks if they already have any pre-clad in London stock brick available. The units arrive fully weathertight with a self-sealing

The developer saves time to market and reduce prelim costs and is feeling generous and reduces the sale price. The manufacturing industry starts to create steel cages in bulk and multisuppliers start making the same cages up and down the country. Glass suppliers start making 2m x 2m windows which means they can make three units from a 6m float glass sheet, handy and cost-effective. We design a robust 100mm flush skirting detail meaning we can use standard 2400mm sheets of plasterboard on the walls, we keep the wall studs at 600mm and room dimensions mean we don’t need to cut any plasterboard sheets. You can paint the bedroom any colour you like and the exterior can be any design you wish, but the window remains in the same position and size. Building Control have spent many months testing the prototype and the product is setting new standards in airtightness, fire safety, acoustics as the factory quality and repetition has driven levels of perfection unknown in the construction industry. They are so happy they make a note in the next edition of Building Regulations that CBD designed houses no longer need inspections. The planners have type approved the design and layout as they are getting bored constantly seeing the same layout. Designers have figured out just because the window location is fixed doesn’t mean everything else needs to remain the same. Housing Associations have all looked at the layout and agreed it should be fine and no good reason to change it, they even update their multistandards to include it. More factories are open and making 80,000 seems easy so they start making the 300,000 bedrooms a year to the same size and dimensions as the Victorian bedroom, some owners even start adding coving. Housing crisis sorted, time for tea. For more information visit:

Images: 01-03. Component Based Design has the capacity to streamline housing delivery and boost numbers of units





Tom Shaw, Buildings Director at Ramboll, sees the adoption and development of digital design techniques as critical if we are to unlock the full potential of brownfield sites.

1 Construction stands on the cusp of transformational change, poised and primed to adopt a more intelligent industrial approach to delivering the housing this country desperately needs. Offsite construction has been around for decades, and while deployment has been growing steadily over the past ten years, it’s still a minority approach in the UK housing sector. If we are to create the affordable high-quality housing the country so desperately needs we need to become more productive, both in constructing homes of the future, and in maximising the use of available space. The industry has been resistant to change, but the signs are the stars really are starting to align. Digital design is critical to unlocking potential. New digital tools are debunking the myth that each project is unique, and is making possible innovative and imaginative designs that wring the maximum profitable usage out of the last amount of space, quickly and effectively. With lack of housing supply and need to densify urban residential areas, pressure to develop brownfield land is growing from across the political and environmental spectrum. However, lack of adequate site records, historic below ground obstacles, contamination, the need to re-route



existing services, interfaces with adjacent properties and restricted site access have all conspired to prevent viable development. And this is where new digital design capabilities are now playing key roll, maximising use of space and enabling profitable development opportunities in our towns and cities. At Ramboll we’ve developed a suite of digital design tools to overcome brownfield constraints. With our Dynamic Masterplanning tools, we work with the architect to rapidly generate building massing options whilst simultaneously undertaking early engineering analysis to evaluate and evolve them. Masses are automatically analysed through automated processes to provide key performance indicators on a host of criteria, including daylighting, overshadowing, foundation loading, core sizing, pedestrian travel distances, accessibility, sightlines, modularity, façade areas and crane positioning. The flexible platform design allows the toolkit to be rapidly customised around each site. It performs automated analysis of the form to the critical criteria in seconds, instead of days of manual modelling. We now analyse thousands of procedurally generated massing options, so we can explore many more options in search of efficient, optimum and buildable solutions.


3 With data sets produced at such an early stage, we inform area, costing and viability assessments with live analytical results to identify options with maximum potential. And, of course, we identify unviable schemes quickly, meaning we can fail fast and fail cheap, a big change to the traditional design process. Digital tools encourage collaboration among all stakeholders, helping unlock potential, and moving projects further, faster. We empower clients to make informed decisions at the outset, improving project predictability and helping to meet economic, social and environmental challenges. For more information visit: Images: 01. Dynamic Masterplanning 02. Automated digital processes provide key performance indicators on a host of criteria, in this case crane positioning 03. Digital design tools exploring multiple options for unlocking space in constrained environments

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Alan Tate, Partner at Michelmores LLP outlines a new legal guide to offsite manufacturing that highlight some of the legal issues particular to offsite manufacturing when compared to traditional construction methods.

1 Constructing Excellence South West (CESW) has nine forums which look at specific aspects of the construction sector with a special regard to collaborative working and best practice. One of the purposes of these forums is to provide guidance and information which is then made available to its members. The ‘offsite’ forum identified the need to consider how the construction industry will need to adapt its contractual arrangements and processes to take full advantage of the benefits of offsite manufacturing can provide. With this in mind, CESW asked law firms in the South West if they would provide a guide on this subject. This would be the third guide in the series, the first being a guide on development finance and the second is on mediation. All of these guides are on CESW’s website. Five firms volunteered and have contributed to the cost of this guide: BPE – Cheltenham office, BPL Solicitors – Dorchester office, Michelmores LLP – Bristol and Exeter offices, Osborne Clarke – Bristol Office and Trowers & Hamlins LLP – Exeter office. We are also grateful to Walker Jansseune Limited who provided the design and production of the guide.


Each firm has addressed two legal topics which are relevant to offsite manufacturing. Of course, not every topic will be applicable in every instance as the guide is not sector specific. As such, it seeks to cover both housing projects and client commissioned projects. Each article gives general guidance and provides suggested solutions on how to address the legal points. At the beginning of the guide there is an executive summary which has four key points in for each of the 10 topics. There are a number of themes which run through the topics. Firstly, the use of offsite manufacturing invariably means that the design process has to be completed in advance of the manufacturing being starting. This raises a number of points. RIBA recommends that the design process needs to start with an offsite solution in mind and the RIBA overlay addresses this by adapting the usual Plan of Work. Also, there is a strong argument that ‘early contractor involvement’ and the use of twostage procurement is the natural consequence of offsite manufacturing. In addition, clarity is needed over the ownership and risk of damage of materials whilst they are being manufactured and transported to site. The related subject of security over any advanced payment is also addressed. Secondly, the guide highlights some of the advantages of offsite manufacturing. These include the likelihood that the industry’s health and safety record will improve as the factory environment will provide a more controlled work place. Also, the adoption of supply chain engagement not only complies with the Government’s best practice, it also has the potential to save overall costs.


Thirdly, the guide considers the various contract structures which could be used and are readily available. It highlights the recently published NEC4 contracts and suggests a number of procurement structures which are suitable for offsite manufacturing. Looking forward, the recent introduction of an insurance backed quality assurance scheme is a sign of further changes which will make offsite projects the system of choice and suitable for long term investment. Of course, the guide is not intended to be definitive but is intended to highlight some of the legal points which are particular to offsite manufacturing if being compared to the traditional construction methods and how the legal documentation can be adapted to reflect this construction process. For more information visit: You can also hear more about this Guide from Alan Tate who will be presenting at the Explore Offsite South West event, 11 July 2018, Sandy Park, Exeter. For more details and to register visit: Images: 01. The new guide was commissioned by Constructing Excellence South West (CESW)

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DATES FOR YOUR DIARY If you are interested in learning more about offsite construction and the associated manufacturing processes then choose from some of the following offsite events in 2018: DATE




05 July

Solid Wood Solutions

The Oculus, University of Warwick

Solid Wood Solutions will feature case studies on some of the major solid wood projects which have been delivered recently throughout the UK and Europe and this is supported by an exhibition of CLT and Glulam suppliers as well as complementary component manufacturers. 11 July

Explore Offsite South West

Sandy Park, Exeter

The conference and exhibition will bring together a range of offsite technology supply chain specialists and industry leaders to discuss the uptake of offsite construction in the South West region and will focus on the key themes such as regional offsite supply chain resources and opportunities. 12 September

Explore Offsite North West

University of Salford, Manchester

The first North West regional event in the Explore Offsite series will take the form of a combined conference and exhibition and will bring together a range of offsite technology supply chain specialists and industry leaders to discuss the uptake of offsite construction within the region. 20 September NORTH WEST

26 September

Inside Offsite Factory Tour: EOS Facades

County Durham

The tour will include demonstrations from the estimating team of how the EOS ‘lump sum’ quote is generated, of EOS’ design software, the new Howick FRAMA machine plus quality control, labelling, floor coding and traceability processes. Inside Offsite Factory Tour: FP McCann


FP McCann are opening their factory doors to construction professionals to allow them to discover more about precast concrete. FP McCann’s specialist precast division manufactures a wide range of high quality precast components to the construction industry. 10 October

Structural Timber Awards

NCC, Birmingham

The Structural Timber Awards are back for 2018, celebrating it’s fourth year rewarding the very best in structural timber construction. Over 500 construction professionals will gather at the prestigious ceremony to celebrate the great, the good and the simply outstanding. 30 October

Modular Matters

NEC, Birmingham

New for 2018, Modular Matters will be showcasing exemplar projects across commercial offices, public buildings, hotels, airports, sport stadiums, hospitals, universities and schools and debating how far this innovative technology can push the boundaries of design and manufacture. 4 & 5 December


Explore Offsite

NEC, Birmingham

This two-day conference and exhibition will create a platform for construction clients and their professional advisers to network with industry experts and discuss the latest offsite construction solutions. The event format provides a dynamic and interactive learning experience for all visitors through presentations and the wide array of exhibitors.


30.10.2018 NEC Birmingham In partnership with

MODULAR MATTERS is a one day CONFERENCE and EXHIBITION creating a platform for construction clients and their professional advisers to explore the latest advances in volumetric modular technology, providing a dynamic and interactive learning experience for all visitors.

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